Tseng Sheng-kuang (曾聖光), a 25-year-old Taiwanese who volunteered to fight in Ukraine, is believed to be the first known soldier from East Asia to die in the conflict in Europe.
Tseng’s wife said he traveled to Ukraine in June, and last contacted her on Oct. 23 before a five-day mission. He was injured in a battle in the eastern province of Luhansk and died en route to a hospital.
She described her husband as “an honest man with a strong sense of justice.”
With the young men in uniform who have gone to their graves, covered with flowers picked by young women to say goodbye to their husbands going to war, the world has witnessed a sad story repeating itself through history. Yet, the bravery and the sacrifice of young men like Tseng keeps the dream of yesterday, the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.
Tseng is a shining example of someone defending democracy, protecting freedom, fighting for justice, and securing liberties for current and future generations.
As US House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Democracy is majestic, but it is fragile... Democracy must be forever defended from forces that wish it harm.”
Dictators have no concern for the welfare of humankind. They hold countries hostage, enslave people, break constitutions, and destroy lives and livelihoods. With their twisted life purposes such as empire building, they have caused so much pain and destruction, past and present.
The world must unite to rid itself of dictators. We, the people, are one world, one destiny. This sentiment is apparent in Taiwan as many Taiwanese — including Tseng — have seen the parallels between Taiwan’s resistance against China and Ukraine’s struggle against Russia.
Faced with the constant threat of invasion by China, Taiwanese are particularly sympathetic about Ukrainians fighting for their democracy and independence, and thinking about a similar fate that could befall them. Fighting on the front line to defend democracy and freedom for Ukraine, Tseng is a model world citizen who made the ultimate sacrifice for the ideal of a world free from fear, injustice, suppression, brutality and poverty.
A farewell ceremony to honor Tseng was held in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, with Tseng’s family members attending. Ukrainian officials delivered moving tributes to his heroism.
Meanwhile, young Russians, out of their conscience, are running away to avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine.
However, to be everywhere is to be nowhere. Staying home to fighting dictatorships ought to be a duty. The same can be said about Chinese and business tycoons who are fleeing China. There is no reason to wait until the dictators send us to kill each other.
When will we ever learn where all the flowers have gone?
James J.Y. Hsu is a retired physics professor.
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