Television viewers throughout the country yesterday were regaled by one of Taiwan's most touching rituals: the sight of leading KMT luminaries -- including those recently expelled -- paying homage at the temporary resting place of Chiang Ching-kuo
One after another, the worthies paraded to the shrine, prostrating themselves and offering incense in the most proper Confucian fashion. It was a poignant moment, surely filling us all with nostalgia for the good old days when the streets were safe, the media reported only happy news and the trains ran on time.
We hope that readers who feel disappointed that we have not presented a photo spread of this deeply moving occasion will be consoled by the fact that it occurs not just annually, but three times each year. In addition, there is another round of equally touching commemorations of the "great leader" Chiang Kai-shek (
Besides the throngs of ordinary well-wishers, the most prominent visitors are each given the opportunity to offer his -- by tradition, men are given pride of place -- prayers in individual privacy, with only the mute witness of the TV cameras. With the passage of time, the event has been extended over two days to accommodate the swelling numbers of those wanting to pay their respects.
Those who once administered with stern authority to prepare Taiwan for the noble task of retaking the mainland showed a more tender side as they sobbed before the tomb of "Mr. Ching-kuo" -- as he is affectionately known. For others, tough exteriors, developed over years of fending off obstreperous members of the press and the legislature, were shed to give the television audience a rare glimpse of the tender inner feelings of our leaders.
The most august visitor yesterday was, naturally, President Lee Teng-hui (
Naturally Vice-President Lien Chan (
But the most memorable highlights of this year's anniversary came not from the political "ins" but rather from those cast down from greatness. For example there was recently-retired Secretary-General of the Presidential Office John Chang (
But, for most observers, the most eagerly anticipated moment came when independent presidential candidate James Soong (
What a tragedy it is that Mr. Ching-kuo has not yet been able to be properly buried in his homeland, but we should all give thanks that we can have these frequent opportunities to collectively cherish his memory. Whatever happens, we must not forget our history.
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