Overseas Chinese, World War II veterans and the descendants of a Flying Tigers pilot on Tuesday commemorated the 78th anniversary of the July 7 Incident in 1937, which marked the start of China’s eight-year resistance against Japanese aggression.
More than 100 people gathered in San Mateo, California, to recall the Chinese people’s arduous fight against Japan’s invasion and witnessed the countdown ceremony of the opening of the WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall, considered the first and only one of its kind outside China.
Since the July 7 Incident in 1937, also called the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, more than 35 million Chinese were killed by the Japanese Imperial Army. During the commemoration of the incident, all the participants rose and paid silent tribute to those killed.
“The war is cruel,” said Florence Fang, chairwoman of the Florence Fang Family Foundation and a philanthropist in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
She showed the guests two photos: an American father burying his 19-year-old son who was killed in World War II, and a Japanese soldier who was ready to die for the war like “falling blossoms” from a cherry tree.
She said the war not only inflicted suffering on China but also destroyed the fabric of other countries.
“The aim of establishing the Memorial Hall is to respect history and cherish peace,” said Fang, also the hall’s curator. “If we don’t respect history, we can’t have justice in the world.”
The 5,000-square-foot hall is scheduled to open to the public on Aug 15, the 70th anniversary of the end of the SinoJapanese War.
“The museum is not only aimed to tell the misery and suffering of the Chinese people during the war, but also to focus on their fortitude and tenacity to fight against aggression,” Fang said. “We also want to remind people that China and the US stood together to achieve the shared victory.”
Larry Jobe, president of the Flying Tigers Historical Organization, who shot down a Japanese plan, was honored with a Flying Tigers pilot jacket and a $500 gift certificate.
“Florence’s vision, coupled with her leadership and passion, will ensure the world knows the complete history of how the people of China and America, fighting and dying side by side, defeated the invading Japanese during World War II,” he said.
Jobe said that the Flying Tigers group would partner with Memorial Hall and work to increase awareness of the special relations that existed between the Chinese and American peoples during the war.
The completed museum is expected to feature five exhibitions, covering the preJapanese invasion period of 1931 to 1937; the Chinese people’s resistance on their own terms from 1937 to 1941; the US involvement from 1942 to 1945; the friendship between China and the US during the war; and the patriotism of overseas Chinese.
A scale model of the Zhongshan Warship, a gunboat that sank with Chinese soldiers on deck during a Japanese bombing in 1938, was donated to Memorial Hall by the Zhongshan Warship Museum in Hubei province.
More wartime artifacts are being shipped from China to the hall in San Francisco, according to Fang.
“We hope the Memorial Hall will become a symbol of overseas Chinese patriotism and show the world the victory of the Chinese people at the sacrifice of their own lives, as well as their contribution to the world’s anti-fascist efforts,” said Luo Linquan, Chinese consul general in San Francisco.
Florence Fang (center), chairwoman of the Florence Fang Family Foundation and curator of the WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall, and Luo Linquan (third from left), Chinese consul general to San Francisco, join special guests, including veterans from the WWII and a descendant of a Flying Tigers Pilot, at an event held on Tuesday in San Mateo in memory of the July 7 Incident in 1937.