Tomb Sweeping Day is an occasion for Taiwanese to remember and honor their ancestors, but for 92-year-old Lee Lung-chi (李隆基), a retired Republic of China (ROC) Army colonel, it is the day to “catch up with” some of his old military buddies.
At 11am on Friday last week, Lee was seen walking toward two tombs in the Eighth Public Cemetery in New Taipei City’s Tucheng District (土城), carrying a bag of ghost money.
District firefighter Wang Tsung-kai (王琮凱) thought Lee was on his way to sweep the tombs of his ancestors and gave him a water bag to use to put out the fire after he finished burning the ghost money.
However, Lee returned about an hour later, still carrying the bag of ghost money, saying that it had been too windy on the mountain to burn the money and asking if Wang would burn it for him later.
Out of curiosity, Wang asked Lee about the owners of the tombs, and discovered that they were two of Lee’s military acquaintances who passed away in the 1970s.
Lee told Wang that his friends’ deaths had deeply saddened him and since he could not bring the dead back to life, he decided to visit their tombs every Tomb Sweeping Day to “have a chat” with them and help clean the tombs.
“I have been doing this every year for the past four decades,” Lee said.