World / US and Canada

Group pushes for genocide memorial

By CHANG JUN in Cupertino (China Daily USA) Updated: 2014-05-21 11:24

A group of young overseas Chinese, WWII veterans and long-time advocates for preserving the history of WWII joined together Tuesday to ask the Cupertino City Council to approve installation of a Pacific War Memorial Monument in the town's Memorial Park.

In a proposal with supporting materials initiated by the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia and revised from a previous version put forth by Cupertino resident Larry Tan in Dec 2013, members asked the city council to designate an area of adequate size within the park as a Genocide Memorial Site, according to Ding Yuan, spokesman for the alliance.

The Genocide Memorial Site, in keeping with Memorial Park's spirit of honoring those who have fallen in foreign or domestic wars and educate the public about the atrocity of war and the importance of maintaining peace, will specifically pay tribute to civilian victims of worldwide genocides, including those killed in the Pacific War (1941-45) in Asia, said the proposal.

Specifically, the monument shall symbolize the torment endured by the victims and serve as a reminder of the horrendous crimes against humanity and honor victims from Pearl Harbor to the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Korea, China, Southeast and South Asia and Polynesia.

In December 1937, the Japanese army killed 300,000 Chinese civilians in Nanjing, leaving hundreds and thousands injured, looted and raped.

Historians say the Pacific War, or Asia-Pacific War, started in early Dec, 1941 with Japan's invading neighboring countries. The Pacific War saw the allied forces of the US and China, with China's Anti-Japanese War (1937-45) an important segment in World War II, fighting Japan together, culminating in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan's final surrender in September 1945.

"We are racing against time to get the city council to put this line item on the agenda for discussion and vote in two weeks," said Ding, adding that the city's fiscal year would end at the end of June.

In the past, the city council has been playing delay tactics to table similar proposals, said Ding, adding that some council members would cite "nonsense excuses" such as "avoiding ethical hatred" or "harmonizing Sino-Japan relations" in order to stall the alliance's efforts.

However, this year "we decided to act firmly," said Ding. "They have to give us a clear-cut answer, yes or no."

Cupertino is the most diversified city in the Bay Area with 50 percent of its population Asian. As home to Apple, HP and many office buildings and shopping malls, Cupertino doesn't have anything to tell children about what happened during WWII, said Stone Lin, president of the Chinese Mutual Aid International Network (CMAIN), and also an active member of the alliance.

As a leading progressive city, Cupertino should and must not only treasure our ability for innovation and futuristic visions, but also our compassion and sense of justice, said the proposal.

Having a great Apple campus and many world renowned technological achievements is only half of the equation to make Cupertino a great city, completing the existing Veterans Memorial with a civilian genocide site will give our citizens something to be proud of. It would be a step in the right direction to building character for our city.

"This project will tell our younger generations to not to forget about the history in Asia. Don't forget those who died in that war," said Lin, adding the monument would also serve as a witness to remind us of the US-China joint force that fought together and defeated the invading Japanese in the 1940s.

Many similar genocide memorial sites have been done in public or private parks, museums and buildings in the US and abroad, said the proposal, including those at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, the Museum of Tolerance and Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Lincoln Park in San Francisco, a number of Holocaust museums in Israel and the Holocaust Grove at Sonoma State University, where many Cupertino residents have visited and contributed to install monuments, bricks and plaques since 2009.

The construction of the Pacific War Memorial monument will require an area of approximately 80 to 100 square feet, located inside the Genocide Memorial Site, said the proposal.

All labor and materials cost as well as the expenses for the administration of construction and ceremonial events should be paid for by a dedicated trust fund raised and administered by a "special ‘Pacific War Memorial' monument committee" appointed by the city council, the proposal said.

A total of $10,000 shall be deposited into the trust fund within 10 days after the certification of required signatures in support of this project by the city clerk. The deposit shall be immediately refunded to the contributors should the initiative fail for any reason.

The architecture, detailed design and the language used in the plaque on the monument and any bricks shall be reviewed and approved by the special monument committee for appropriateness.

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