From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Editorial: Learning civics through understanding our nation’s history

From "Taiwan Church News" <>
Date Wed, 3 Mar 2010 15:12:01 -0800

>      Taiwan Church News

>3026 Edition

>February 22~28, 2010

Editorial: Learning civics through understanding our nation’s  history

>Translated by Lydia Ma

In 1987, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the 228 Incident,  Deng Nanjung, Chen Yong-

hsing, and other democracy advocates began a movement pressuring  the government to

uncover the truth behind this massacre that occurred in 1947.  Their boldness was quite heroic

at the time as the subject in question was taboo and Taiwanese  people lived under martial


Shortly after this movement began, the 228 Incident finally became  a subject of discussion in

mainstream Taiwanese media. Though most discussions and reports in  mainstream channels

portrayed the victims negatively, a few independent periodicals  were able to shed some light

on what really happened. But getting the truth out wasn’t  always easy, and periodicals such as

Taiwan Church News or Taiwan New Culture had their publications  confiscated by authorities

>on numerous occasions.

However, thanks to efforts from democracy pioneers, the 228  Incident began to be studied

and discussed openly in Taiwan. Two years later, in 1989, many  social organizations began

referring to this day as “228 Peace Memorial Day” and  further secured the historical

significance and value of this national tragedy.

In 1995, then-President Lee Teng-hui declared that speaking about  the 228 incident was no

longer taboo and then took an extra step by apologizing to the  victims’ families on behalf of

the KMT government. The Legislative Yuan followed suit by passing  a legislation to

>compensate victims’ families.

President Lee’s apology began a process that would allow  justice to be served and taught

Taiwanese people that justice isn’t merely an ideal stored  within one’s heart, but rather, it must

be made alive through systems and regulations.

On February 28, 2004, more than 2 million citizens across Taiwan  took their stand in support

for Taiwan’s autonomy and democracy by participating in a  rally coined “228 hand-in-hand

rally”. This rally cemented the significance of 228 Peace and  Memorial Day in Taiwan and

elevated this democracy movement to the level of a mass movement  supported by many


If we take a look back at how 228 Peace Memorial Day has been  celebrated in the past 20

years, we can see that Taiwanese society came to terms with the  most painful event in its

modern history by refusing to seethe with hate or bitterness, and  bravely seeking justice and

>peace amidst the pain.

Besides pursuing ideals such as justice and peace, we have also  seen this democracy

movement give birth to other commendable virtues including a sense  of civic duty, as

evidenced by the number of people who participated in 228  hand-in-hand rally.

As we commemorate the 63rd anniversary of 228 Peace and Memorial  Day, let us not

become complacent just because the subject is no longer taboo and  there are tons of

activities commemorating that day, or because everything about it  is sounds familiar and

boring. Quite the contrary, we must reflect on this historical  incident and learn to become a

responsible citizen involved in the public policy process, because  that is how we fulfill our

ancestors’ dreams and make our country more beautiful.


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