US support for Taiwan’s self-defense remains firm, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen said yesterday at the unveiling of a memorial to honor the 126 US service members who have lost their lives defending Taiwan since 1949.
The ceremony at the institute commemorated US Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Medendorp and US Lieutenant Colonel Frank Lynn, who died defending Taiwan in 1954 in Kinmen.
Medals and framed certificates were conferred to them in 2016 by then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Photo courtesy of the American Institute in Taiwan
The AIT displays the medals and the certificates in the lobby of its Taipei facility.
“Beyond the sacrifices of these two brave men, these medals, this flag and this memorial are intended to honor all US personnel — past, present and future — who participated or will participate in the US-Taiwan strategic partnership to support Taiwan’s self-defense,” Christensen said.
“Many of today’s threats are different than the ones these brave men confronted. We face dangerous new technologies, a deadly pandemic and the unpredictable effects of climate change, but our partnership, rooted in tradition, continues to exemplify the mutual support, mutual respect, and mutual interests that these service members and their cohort helped to build between our societies and between our militaries,” he said.
Photo courtesy of the American Institute in Taiwan
Taiwan and the US have made great progress in security cooperation, economic and commercial partnerships, Taiwan’s participation in the international community, and promotion of people-to-people ties between the two countries in his time as AIT head, Christensen said, adding that the progress on security cooperation is particularly noteworthy.
The security relationship began during World War II and continued after the war with the establishment of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in 1951 and the US Taiwan Defense Command after the first Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1954 and 1955.
US service members were stationed throughout Taiwan, including Kinmen and Matsu during the conflict, with 126 of them perishing while providing assistance and support to Taiwan’s armed forces, Christensen said.
“Our close friendship also means that when Taiwan suffers the loss of valued comrades, as they have this year, we feel those losses as though they were our own, but as we grieve together, we also feel a renewed sense of commitment and purpose,” he said.
Veteran Affairs Council Minister Kent Feng (馮世寬) said that he was touched that the families of Medendorp and Lynn allowed the medals to reside in Taiwan.
Their presence here would show people the sacrifices the soldiers made to defend freedom and peace in Taiwan, Feng said.
Taiwan has contributed to peace and stability in East Asia for almost 60 years with US assistance and tremendous sacrifices by Taiwanese military personnel, Feng said, adding that the council and the American Legion veterans’ association would resume collaborations after the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
Earlier yesterday, the AIT posted photographs on Facebook showing Christensen and other officials preparing offerings for Ghost Festival.
Additional reporting by CNA
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