Allied prisoners of war (POW) should be remembered for the “ideals they fought and died for” American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk said yesterday at an annual memorial at a former World War II prison camp in New Taipei City.
Speaking at the Remembrance Day event at Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial Park, Oudkirk said it was an honor to be a part of remembering the POWs held in Taiwan during World War II.
Most of the soldiers, sailors and aviators who were prisoners at the former Kinkaseki POW camp in Jinguashi (金瓜石) were captured during the earliest battles of the Pacific War, Oudkirk said.
Kinkaseki was one of the most notorious Japanese prison camps of the war.
These Allied soldiers struck the first blow in protecting liberty and democracy and paid the price with their sacrifice, but their bravery helped to lay the foundation for the ultimate victory, she said.
“As we remember the Allied prisoners of war, we must remember the ideals they fought and died for,” she said. “We owe them a debt that can never be repaid, and which must never be forgotten.”
Oudkirk was among several foreign envoys that participated in the event, including Canadian Trade Office in Taipei Executive Director Jordan Reeves, British Representative to Taiwan John Dennis and New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office Interim Director Stephanie Lee.
The memorial featured speeches from foreign representatives and the Veterans Affairs Council, as well as readings and remembrances from former POWs, family members and friends. It concluded with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kinkaseki Prisoner of War Memorial.
According to the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, which organizes the event, the ceremony takes place every year in November on the weekend closest to the 11th to remember those held in the prison camps in Taiwan during World War II.
More than 4,000 POWs, including soldiers from Australia, the Netherlands, the UK and the US, were held at 17 camps or related facilities set up by the Japanese Imperial Army in Taiwan between 1942 and 1945, according to the society.
Up to 42 percent of them were killed or died in captivity.
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