The beginning of April marks a Chinese holiday called Qingming Festival. The translation literally means “tomb sweeping day” which is clearly more entertaining to say than Qingming Festival. This is a day where the deceased are honored and as the name suggests, where tombs are cleared of rubbish and weeds. Food, wine, gifts, etc. are also offered at the grave sites but it would seem that flowers have become more commonplace. With the extra few days off from work, we decided to venture to Nanjing. Shortly after we arrived in China, we stumbled across a movie about the trials between China and Japan. The focus was on the war crimes that took place in Nanjing during 1937. Both of us were seriously disturbed over what we had seen in this movie. For days I had nightmares and I couldn’t shake the disturbance it caused for almost a week. I’ve never been so bothered by a movie or a piece of history. We were compelled to go to Nanjing as a result. Having lived in Japan, It’s hard to imagine that a culture I consider so kind and considerate to be capable of such pure hatred and evil. Even to this day, you can tell the Chinese still cling to the anger and resentment for whats been done here.
We spent our Tomb Sweeping Day at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall. It’s like the Holocaust museum for China. It was a rainy and somber day which seemed appropriate for such a visit. Roughly 300,000 victims fell prey to the Japanese when they invaded Nanjing. The memorial itself gave homage to the victims and retold the tales of the horrific events that took place during the six weeks the Japanese occupied Nanjing. Details too disturbing to retell here although I would encourage people to look into the history of this event. Part of the memorial was built around one of the mass grave sites where a number of victims were uncovered just as recent as 1998. It was incredibly sad to walk through this portion of the memorial. Countless lives that once were are now just bones eerily staring back at you. It was well worth the visit to gain a better understanding of the culture here. So we can only hope, understanding the past will help us to keep perspective of our actions going forward. It’s easy to forget until you visit places like this that have experienced the most inhumane of acts. It definitely brings the reality of war to life on an intimate level. It also makes me think more about our role in a global perspective and the atrocities we have caused…war is not cool.