The times they are a-changin.
The site originally dedicated to Chiang Kai-shek by his Kuomintang successors is being rededicated to the ideals of democracy. In the years following the Generalissimo's death in 1978 the site bearing his name became the scene of numerous demonstrations calling for reform. The most notable of these, the Wild Lily student movement of 1990, led to Taiwan's first island-wide popular elections. Recalling these events, Taiwan's national government recently designated the square, the hall and the surrounding gardens historical landmarks and rededicated them to the island's peaceful achievement of democracy.
The original Chinese characters over the entrance archway recalled Taiwan's late dictator in words fit for a Chinese emperor: dazhong zhizheng (
New characters designating the landmark as Liberty Square (
A crowd of several hundred looked on, took pictures, and shared stories about life under Chiang Kai-shek and the developments since. There were songs as well. One knot of protesters waved ROC flags and sang 'Remember Chiang Kai-shek' repeatedly throughout the day. The Chinese-language anthem, once taught in schools, declares the singer's loyalty to the Generalissimo's goals of 'opposing Communists' and 'retaking the mainland.' Another small group, supporting the change, broke out singing 'Taiwan the Formosa' as the last character dropped from the wall. This Taiwanese-language hymn praises an island 'once subdued under foreign rule, now free at last to be its own.'
The Taipei Times reports that in the next week the plaque designating the monument across the square as 'Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall' (
Photos by Alton Thompson
Taipei, Taiwan 2007 December 7
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