Thursday, 11 November 2010

A Poppy for Remembrance

A poppy from the British Legion
Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, Armistice Day in the UK, and Veterans' Day in the United States.

And for the first time in four years I am wearing a poppy to remember the war dead.

I managed to hunt the flower down at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Central. Right in the foyer hanging along the staircase are bags of poppies, the ones from the British Legion and coin bags, hoping for the honour system that people will donate.

The interesting thing about these poppies is that there are no pins to attach these paper flowers to your clothing so I had to get a safety pin to secure it onto my jacket.

I've only seen a handful of other people in Hong Kong wearing a poppy and I'm appalled there aren't more remembering this day.

I say this because some 1,500 British and Canadian soldiers risked their lives trying to defend Hong Kong from the Japanese in December 1941. By late October the Japanese had already occupied Canton (now Guangzhou) and effectively had Hong Kong surrounded.

On December 8, eight hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour (December 7 Pacific time), the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. Unfortunately many of the corps were outnumbered and quickly fell. People were massacred, women raped, prisoners tortured before being killed.

Christmas Day 1941 then Governor of Hong Kong Sir Mark Aitchison Young surrendered in person at Japanese headquarters at the Peninsula Hotel. The day was known as "Black Christmas".

This began three years and eight months of Japanese occupation. Liberation did not come until August 15 after the US dropped the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima on August 15, 1945.

While Hong Kong is now part of China, this is a significant part of the city's history that should not be forgotten. It has contributed to what Hong Kong is today.

On this day we wish to recognize those who paid their lives for peace.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. we teed off at 10.55 today. at exactly 11.00 a horn sounded we observed a moment of silence while the pro-shop played the 'amazing grace' and the flag was lowered at half mast. the chinese government is notorious in forgetting the past war wounds and poor treatment of her veterans. i remember after the second world war many return soldiers some even were amputees begging on the streets while we lived in canton at the time. i hope this sorry chapter of history is not being repeated in the financially mighty china today.

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