Martial Spirit of the Armed Forces of Free China

媒體

On the Centenary of the Founding of the Armed Forces of the Republic of China, the founding spirit as elucidated by Dr. Sun Yat-sen and President Chiang Kai-shek is respectfully recounted; the engraved swords and telescope of the Army, Air Force and Navy from the early years of the Republic of China are attentively displayed; the origin and rise of the Martial Spirit of Modern China are thus demonstrated and substantiated.

It is hoped that such measures may alert the disoriented and cure the deaf, and reinvigorate the grand ambition of triumphing over the Five Sacred Mountains and the Four Great Seas.

Curatorial and Editorial Department

Ceremonial swords and telescope of the Republic of China Army, Air Force and Navy

The soul of the nation and the martial spirit of the nation are hallowed light kindled by the Confucian teachings of benevolence, compassion, loyalty and righteousness over two millenniums. The soul and the martial spirit have been distinctly revealed in the ethos of heroic figures during the tumultuous times of dynastic rise and fall. Even when societies decay and collapse, there are always a few whose high morals compel them to safeguard the soul and the martial spirit with all they have, so that they are never extinguished in our world despite countless calamities. As time goes by and the world moves on, the moment the tempest of change arrives, even though the soul and the martial spirit may just be meagre sparks, they can abruptly ignite and swiftly spread, they can torch the land and cleanse our world. Success and failure, survival and demise, follow the cyclical pattern of life, whereby defeat can turn into victory, death can lead to rebirth. All there is, is for the soul of the nation and the martial spirit of the armed forces to quietly change the hearts and minds of the people.

Calligraphy of “Nationalism (民族), Democracy (民權), Livelihood (民生)” according to The Three Principles of the People (三民主義) by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Founding Father of the Republic of China

Emblem of New Life Movement (新生活運動) which was launched by President Chiang Kai-shek in 1934. The emblem of shield with compass represents self-defense and orientation. Blue and white represent blue sky and white sun, identical to the national flag. Red represents strife and courage, yellow represents light and integrity

Recalling the early years of the founding of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) also known as the Father of the Nation, advocated The Three Principles of the People (Nationalism, Democracy and Livelihood), and the late President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) subsequently promoted the New Life Movement (新生活運動). Their ideological premises are both rooted in China's millennia-old Confucian orthodoxy. Dr. Sun and President Chiang were dismayed at the decline of traditional culture and were determined to revive China's historical moral values as expressed in the Four Anchors (四維) and the Eight Virtues (八德). The Four Anchors being Propriety (禮), Righteousness (義), Integrity (廉), and Shamefulness (恥). The Eight Virtues being Loyalty (忠), Filial Piety (孝), Benevolence (仁), Compassion (愛), Truthfulness (信), Justice (義), Harmony (和) and Peace (平). They knew too well that if the Four Anchors were not upheld, the nation would fall apart and perish. The moral values of Confucianism thus became the backbone of the Republic of China and the cornerstone of her politics and culture. Dr. Sun and President Chiang frequently invoked the colloquial saying: “Inherit the past and pioneer the future (繼往開來)” to inspire and encourage people, earnestly hoping for the revival of the Four Anchors and the Eight Virtues.

Calligraphy of “Inherit the past and pioneer the future (繼往開來)” by Dr. Sun Yat-sen

Calligraphy of “Propriety (禮), Righteousness (義), Integrity (廉), Shamefulness (恥)” according to The Four Anchors (四維) by President Chiang Kai-shek

On 16 June in the 13th year of the Republic (1924), the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) established a military academy in Whampoa, known as Lu-chün Chün-kuan Hsüeh-hsiao (陸軍軍官學校 Military Academy of Army Officers). Dr. Sun and President Chiang painstakingly cultivated the moral character and integrity of the students, in particular, they regularly expounded the meaning of martial spirit to inspire the students, and nurtured their willingness to sacrifice life for the cause of a democratic and free China. Now, at the centennial of the establishment of the Military Academy of Army Officers, I recount the beginnings of the Military Academy, the teachings of Dr. Sun and President Chiang on the ideals of martial spirit, and to propagate this spirit in the midst of unsettling time.

Portrait of Dr. Sun Yat-sen

On 2 March in the 12th year of the Republic (1923), the General Headquarters of the Military Government was officially established in Canton, with Dr. Sun Yat-sen assuming the position of grand marshal. In the first month of the 13th year of the Republic (1924), Dr. Sun planned to build a revolutionary army to counter the Warlord Government of Northern China and to save the democratic Republic. On 24 January, he appointed President Chiang Kai-shek as chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Military Academy. The entry on this day in the Chronological Biography of Dr. Sun Yat-sen (國父年譜) states :

“Dr. Sun felt deeply that the main reason for the failure of China’s revolution was that China only had a revolutionary party to fight on her behalf, she did not have a revolutionary army to fight on her behalf. When the Nanking government negotiated peace with Yüan Shih-kai (袁世凱) in 1911, Dr. Sun realized it was not a wise move, but pushed by circumstance, he had no choice but compromise. The failure of the Second Revolution was also due to the absence of an army motivated by political idealism in the independent provinces. In the campaign against Yüan, in the campaign to uphold the constitution, the revolutionary party either partnered with untrained militias or with existing armies, they were completely unreliable and even turned against the revolutionary party in times of crisis. Now that the Kuomintang had restructured, people like Yang Hsi-min (楊希閔) and Liu Chen-huan (劉震寰) still deceptively claimed allegiance to the revolutionary banner whilst pursuing their own private profit. Dr. Sun thus resolved to establish a genuine revolutionary army and assigned Chiang Kai-shek, who just returned from a study tour in the Soviet Union, to set up the Military Academy.”

Front entrance of the Military Academy of Army Officers in Whampoa

Four days later, on 28 January, Dr. Sun designated Whampoa to be the site for the Military Academy. Whampoa is an island in Pearl River, about forty miles from Canton. Originally the site contained two groups of buildings that respectively belonged to the Kwangtung Army Academy and the Kwangtung Naval Academy. They were then taken over by the newly established Military Academy. On 21 March, President Chiang was appointed chairman of the Military Academy Entrance Examination Committee. On 26 April, President Chiang visited the Military Academy for an inspection and delivered his first lecture there, saying:

“...This Military Academy is established by our Party. You are all willing to fight for the Party. The original intention of the Academy is to train officers, prepare them to become capable future leaders of our Party, to expand the influence of our Party, and to implement our Three Principles of the People (Nationalism, Democracy and Livelihood), so that China can become a truly independent country and her people a genuinely free people ...”

Portrait of President Chiang Kai-shek

On 3 May, Dr. Sun appointed President Chiang as principal of the Military Academy and concurrently as chief of staff of the Kwangtung Army. On 5 May, the first batch of first-year students entered the Academy and were assigned into the first, second, and third squads. On 7 May, students on the waiting list joined the Academy, forming the fourth squad. According to A Comprehensive Study of the First Graduating Class of the Whampoa Military Academy (黃埔軍校一期研究總成) co-authored by Jung Chien-kuang (容鑑光) and Yeh Ch'üan-hung (葉泉宏), there were 645 graduates in the first graduating class, while 71 cadets did not graduate. On 8 May, President Chiang delivered a speech at the Military Academy under the title Mission of the Military Academy and Life of a Revolutionary. He said:

“... Today is the first day all our comrades in the Academy meet each other. From now on, we are comrades as well as classmates and fellow soldiers. We commemorate this day as a beginning to live and to die together. …

In this time of decline of our race, human rights are pillaged, livelihoods are wasted, greed is rampant, the nation is in chaos, and the government is teetering. Our Party's premier and comrades of the Central Executive Committee have toiled against many odds, laboured without respite to establish an academy of this scale. This is certainly not an easy task. Our comrades in the Academy feel very uneasy in dedicating themselves to the pursuit of study when the rebellion is not extinguished, the national enemy is not vanquished, military affairs are pressing, war drums are thundering, and they are unable to serve our Party nor kill the bandits. Yet our future, our work and our lives fall precisely headlong into this decline, pillage, waste, greed, chaos, and stagger. Our Party’s purpose of establishing this Academy, is to train us in this storm of hardships, to save our country from the misfortunes of decline, pillage, waste, greed, stagger, to rescue our people from fire and flood, to find comfort and repose for humanity. ...

If a person truly understands the principle of being human, thoroughly realizes the purpose of living and the meaning of life, even in a hailstorm of bullets, in an ocean of bloodshed, this person will have no fear in the heart. This person will have no doubt and no worry to jump across or walk over an ocean as vast as the Pacific, a mountain as tall as the Himalayas. When faced with total upheaval, we will still stand tall like a giant, uphold the righteous spirit of the universe, and rescue humanity from the fate of calamity. If we are truly resolute in our aspirations, then there is no reason our work and ideals cannot succeed or be realized ...

Our living is meant to enhance the living of all humanity ... The duty of us soldiers is encapsulated in just one word 'death'. The purpose of us soldiers is also encapsulated in just one word ‘death’. Apart from the word ‘death’, the opposite is ‘clinging to life and fearing death’. If one succumbs to ‘clinging to life and fearing death’, one is not only unfit to be a soldier, one has no integrity and is not human ... Because after our physical death, there will be successors to continue our work, that is they will continue our lives, our lives will thus be perpetuated indefinitely. Therefore, the meaning of our lives is to create lives to continue our work in the future, longevity does not mean extending our temporary existence in the flesh ...

The meaning of comradeship is to share the same aspirations. To share the same aspirations is certainly not forged by momentary power nor gain, but it centers on ideology with everyone striving towards the same goal, to live and die together, to face safety and danger together, to unite the lives of everyone into one life, to persevere until victory, to persevere until death.

Those who join this Academy must love and respect each other. Therefore, our school motto is not like other military academies that dwell on obedience. This Academy’s Principal only requires comrades and cadets to adhere to the four words: ‘Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity’ (親愛精誠). Treat your classmates with affection and love, apply dedication and sincerity to your studies, duties, and integrity towards your cultivation of body and mind ...”

Calligraphy of “Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity (親愛精誠)” according to the Military Academy motto by President Chiang Kai-shek

On the third day the cadets joined the Academy, President Chiang expounded the ideals of martial spirit, the ways of its practice, the meaning of the school motto, and the philosophy that “the purpose of living is to enhance the living of all humanity, the meaning of life is to create lives to continue our work in the future”. In the following decades, President Chiang would frequently teach and instruct these concepts.

Calligraphy of “The purpose of living is to enhance the living of all humanity, the meaning of life is to create lives to continue our work in the future” by President Chiang Kai-shek

On 9 May, Dr. Sun appointed Liao Chung-k’ai (廖仲愷) as representative of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) in the Military Academy. On 13 May, Hu Han-min (胡漢民), Wang Chao-ming (汪兆銘), Tai Chuan-hsien (戴傳賢), Shao Yüan-ch'ung (邵元冲) were appointed political instructors. Hu was assigned to teach the party doctrine of The Three Principles of the People, Wang was responsible for teaching the party history of the Kuomintang, and Tai and Shao were assigned to teach various courses on politics and economics. On 13 June, Li Chi-shen (李濟深) was appointed director of the training department, Wang Pai-ling (王柏齡) director of the teaching department, Tai Chuan-hsien (戴傳賢) director of the political department, and Ho Ying-ch'in (何應欽) the chief instructor.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen (middle) and President Chiang Kai-shek (left) standing on the outdoor stage at the First School Day Ceremony of the Military Academy of Army Officers on 16 June 1924

At 8 a.m. in the morning of 16 June, the Military Academy held the First School Day Ceremony. In attendance were Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his wife, President Chiang Kai-shek as the Academy principal, along with key figures of the Academy such as Liao Chung-k'ai, Hu Han-min, Wang Chao-ming. Additionally, high-ranking military officers, senior civil servants from Kwangtung Province, members of the Central Committee of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), and personnel from various levels of the Central Party Headquarters were invited. There were around four to five hundred guests in all. At 9 a.m., Dr. Sun delivered a speech titled In-Depth Learning is the Foundation of the Revolutionary Army. He said:

“Today marks the beginning of this Academy. Why do we have this Academy? Why is it necessary to establish this Academy? You all understand that China’s revolution has gone on for thirteen years, but what we have achieved so far is the Republic of China in name only, not the reality of the Republic of China. From this perspective, China’s revolution of thirteen years has only resulted in an empty name and is therefore a complete failure. Even today, it remains a failure ...

During the early years of revolution in China, of those party members who fought in Kwangtung, the most famous are the seventy-two martyrs. Many of our party members who fought in other provinces also sacrificed their lives. Because of the struggles of these martyrs, as soon as the Wu-ch’ang Uprising occurred, various provinces responded, overthrowing the Ch’ing Dynasty and establishing the Republic of China. Thus, a part of our revolution succeeded. However after that, there is no revolutionary army to continue the aspirations of the revolutionary party. As a result, even though there is partial success, the average bureaucratic warlords today still dare to openly challenge and permute the political entity of the Republic of China. As for the foundation of the Republic, there is none whatsoever. The simple reason for this is that our revolution is only fought by the revolutionary party, it is not fought by a revolutionary army. Due to the absence of resistance from a revolutionary army, the average bureaucratic warlords seized control of the Republic, and our revolution cannot be completely successful. What is our hope for establishing this Academy today? From this day on, we will recreate the revolutionary cause, and use the students in this Academy as the foundation to establish a revolutionary army. You, the students, are the backbone of the future revolutionary army. With such a strong backbone, once the revolutionary army is established, our revolutionary cause will succeed. If there is no powerful revolutionary army, the Chinese revolution will always fail. Therefore, the sole hope of opening this Military Academy here today is to create a revolutionary army to save China from danger and demise ...

If everyone can equate death to happiness, then one hundred people can fight against ten thousand people. If we have a revolutionary army of ten thousand troops now, we can immediately take over China, because the total number of troops opposing the revolution does not exceed one million at the moment. Since we do not have a revolutionary army of ten thousand troops now, the insatiable and tyrannical warlords have the effrontery to rampage across the country, committing all sorts of atrocities, harming the country in every possible way and plotting daily to overthrow the Republic of China. Because I want to continue the Republic of China, to eradicate the insatiable and tyrannical warlords, I ask you not to fear death and follow the footsteps of the revolutionary martyrs. Moreover, we will use these five hundred as the foundation to create my ideal revolutionary army. When we have this ideal revolutionary army, our revolution will finally succeed. China can be saved, and the forty million people will not perish. Therefore, the cause of the revolution is to save the country and the people. My lifelong participation in revolution is to shoulder this responsibility. As you have come to study at this Academy, I ask all of you to bear this responsibility together from this day on.”

The forty-eight character dictum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen delivered at the First School Day Ceremony. It was later adapted to be the national anthem of the Republic of China in 1937

Dr. Sun’s speech explained in detail the reasons for establishing the revolutionary army and the meaning of martial spirit. After he concluded his speech, at eleven o’clock, the party flag and the academy flag were ceremonially placed, the national anthem, the academy anthem and the revolutionary anthem were played. Hu Han-min read aloud the forty-eight character dictum of Dr. Sun’s teaching:

San Min Chu-i (The Three Principles of the People)
Our aim shall be:
To found a free land,
World peace be our stand.
Lead on, comrades,
Vanguards ye are.
Hold fast your aim,
By sun and star.
Be earnest and brave,
Your country to save,
One heart, one soul,
One mind, one goal.

The forty-eight character dictum of the Founding Father was later adopted as the party anthem of the Chinese Nationalist Party in the 17th year of the Republic of China (1928). On 3 June in the 26th year of the Republic of China (1937), the Central Executive Committee of the Chinese Nationalist Party resolved to use the party anthem as the national anthem. The national anthem of the Republic of China thus came into being.

At the First School Day Ceremony of the Military Academy on 16 June, President Chiang as principal delivered a speech of encouragement. Wang Chao-ming and a number of selected guests also delivered some speeches. At 3 p.m. in the afternoon, Ho Ying-ch'in, the chief instructor, commanded a military parade on the parade ground. The ceremony finished at 5 p.m.

President Chiang led the singing of the Military Academy’s anthem. The lyrics of this earlier version were composed by Tai Chuan-hsien (戴傳賢). They read:

Students abound,
Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity”.
The Three Principles of the People,
Trumpet call of my revolution.
Heroes of revolution,
Vanguards of the people.
Forge ahead over and over,
Follow the works of the martyrs.
Fellow students kindred spirits,
Happily accept these teachings.
Bounded in life and in death,
Forget not our Academy of this day.
Blood will bloom into flowers,
Our Academy we call home.
Taste bitter hardships and avenge,
Strive to build our nation.

Harking back to these faraway years of the founding the Military Academy, respectfully reading the texts of the speeches and school anthem, the heart still grips and the soul still stirs. A century of wars and catastrophes, an ocean of blood and tears, how arduous is the journey of Free China! The date 16 June in the 13th year of the Republic of China (1924) is not only the founding day of the Military Academy, but also the founding day of the Armed Forces of the Republic of China.

The anthem of the Military Academy since 1926

The name of the Military Academy changed several times. On 12 January in the 15th year of the Republic (1926), the Military Affairs Committee of the National Government resolved to change the name from Military Academy of Army Officers to Central Military-Political Academy (中央軍事政治學校). On 19 January, President Chiang Kai-shek assumed the post as principal of the Central Military-Political Academy.

A new school anthem was composed with lyrics by Ch’en Tsu-k’ang (陳祖康) and music by Lin Ch’ing-p’ei (林慶培). This anthem is used to this very day. The lyrics are:

Raging tide surges,
Party flags flutter,
This is revolution Whampoa.
Doctrines must be rigorous,
Disciplines must be vigorous,
Be ready vanguards of struggles.
Clear a blood-stained path,
Lead the oppressed masses;
Hold our hands,
March forward;
Road not far,
Be not afraid.
Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity;
Uphold them forever.
Advance the spirit of our Academy,
Advance the spirit of our Academy.

Front entrance of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers in Nanking

On 5 June in the 15th year of the Republic (1926), President Chiang was appointed commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army. On 9 July during the commander-in-chief inauguration ceremony, the National Revolutionary Army pronounced the launch of the Northern Expedition. In March of the 16th year of the Republic (1927), the National Revolutionary Army captured Nanking, and on 18 April Nanking was designated the capital of the Republic of China. On 5 November, the Central Military-Political Academy was renamed Central Military Academy of Army Officers (中央陸軍軍官學校), and it was located to Nanking.  On 6 March in the 17th year of the Republic (1928) the Central Military Academy of Army Officers held the First School Day Ceremony for the sixth graduating class in Nanking. After China’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, on 1 January in the 35th year of the Republic (1946), the Central Military Academy of Army Officers was renamed The Republic of China Military Academy of Army Officers. In the 38th year of the Republic (1949), mainland China fell to the communists. In the following year, the Republic of China Military Academy of Army Officers was re-established in Fengshan Town, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan Province.

Front entrance of the Republic of China Military Academy of Army Officers after relocating to Fengshan Town, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan Province after 1949

When President Chiang called on military officers to embody the martial spirit, apart from words of guidance and encouragement, he further used the ceremonial sword to alert and admonish. At the graduation ceremonies of military academies, graduates were specially presented with short swords, commonly called Chung-cheng Sword (中正劍 Chung-cheng being the original name of President Chiang), or Cheng-jen Sword (成仁劍 Ch’eng-jen meaning martyrdom), or Whampoa Short Sword (黃埔短劍 Whampoa being the location of the original Academy). The tradition of ceremonial sword started from the first three classes of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps (廬山軍官訓練團), which took place between 18 July to 18 September in the 22nd year of the Republic (1933). At the time, the Nationalist Army suffered a number of setbacks during the suppression of the communists, and President Chiang ordered selected military officers to enroll in three separate training classes at Lu-shan, Kiangsi Province that year. It is said that at their graduation, they were presented with short swords with the casted words: “Martial Spirit. To Commemorate the Chinese Nationalist Party Northern Route Anti-Communist-Bandit Military Officers Training Corps from Kiangsi, Kwangtung, Fukien, Hunan and Hupeh Provinces.” (軍人魂。中國國民黨贛粵閩湘鄂北路剿匪軍軍官訓練團紀念).

Entrance arch of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps (廬山軍官訓練團) in 1933. The horizontal timber plaque with the three characters Chün-jen-hun (軍人魂 meaning: martial spirit) was written by President Chiang Kai-shek

The Military Academy motto banner of "Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity (親愛精誠)" was installed under the eaves of the outdoor stage of the training camp of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps in 1933

Military officers gathered in front of the outdoor stage of the training camp of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps on 9 July 1934. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

In addition, each officer was also presented with a bronze badge with the casted words “Martial Spirit (軍人魂) ” beneath the relief portrait of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Founding Father of the Nation. The training camp of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps was near Hai-hui Temple (海會寺). A timber arch was erected at the road entrance near the temple, a horizontal timber plaque carved with the three Chinese characters Chün-jen-hun (軍人魂 meaning: martial spirit) written by President Chiang was installed. A pair of vertical timber plaques carved with the calligraphic couplets by Dr. Sun was also installed. The words of the calligraphy couplets are:

There must be a war to decide the country’s fate,
(安危他日終須仗)
Together we will taste the coming hardships.
(甘苦來時要共嘗)

Bronze badge with the casted words “Martial Spirit (軍人魂)” beneath the relief portrait of Dr. Sun Yat-sen

As Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps endeavored to instill martial spirit of the armed forces, at the graduation of the third class on 18 September in the 22nd year of the Republic (1923), commander Ch’en Ch’eng (陳誠) delivered a speech titled Graduates Should Have Such Understanding. He discussed the significance of the ceremonial sword and said:

“On this occasion of graduation, the Training Corps presented a short sword and a piece of certificate to each of us. On the short sword, three Chinese characters Chün-jen-hun (軍人魂 meaning: martial spirit) were engraved. Let me remind you again the meaning of these characters. A few days ago I said to you, in order to complete our nationalist revolution, we must rely on a powerful military force. Now China’s powerful military force belongs to our National Revolutionary Army. But a revolutionary military officer must possess the soul of a revolutionary military officer. Regarding the soul of a military officer, there are eight relevant Chinese characters, four promoted by our Premier Dr. Sun: Ch’eng-kung ch’eng-jen (成功成仁 meaning: victory or martyrdom), four promoted by Generalissimo Chiang: Jen-min ai-wu (仁民愛物 meaning: compassion to people and love all things). This sword is given to you to fight for our beliefs, to fight with the enemy hand-to-hand, and when the end comes, to be used by the patriot to realize ‘victory or martyrdom’.”

The ceremonial sword is thus a sacred symbol of the martial spirit of Free China.

Calligraphy of “Martial Spirit” by President Chiang Kai-shek

On 18 July in the 22nd year of the Republic (1933), at the First School Day Ceremony of the first class of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps, President Chiang elucidated the meaning of martial spirit. He said:

“From now on, we must establish a great new foundation, to accomplish the task of exterminating the communist bandits, and fulfill our revolutionary responsibilities. Whether we can eradicate the communists, the success or failure of the revolution, the survival of the party and the country, and even the life and death of each individual, all depend on whether the training this time is effective. …

Therefore, as revolutionary soldiers, we either annihilate the enemy (victory) or we fight to the death ourselves (martyrdom), there is absolutely no excuse for surrender! We must have this kind of revolutionary spirit to fulfill Dr. Sun our Premier’s words of ‘one against a hundred, one against a thousand’, to eliminate the communist bandits, and to establish a new foundation for a successful revolution . … The Premier already told us that ‘strength’ comes from faith, and faith comes from ‘thought’. This principle is immutable. ... Because of this belief, I have faith that The Three Principles of the People will save the country and the people, and I believe that by adhering to The Three Principles of the People in our fight, we can eliminate all enemies and bring about national revival. Since I have this belief, I can strive unswervingly and diligently to realize The Three Principles of the People, and of course, this can become a powerful force.”

President Chiang illuminated the meaning of martial spirit. He advocated that soldiers should choose between victory and martyrdom, and they should believe in the Three Principles of the People to eliminate communism. However, the Sian Incident in December of the 25th year of the Republic (1936) nullified all previous anti-communist efforts. In July the following year, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident ushered in nationwide resistance against Japanese aggression, the Chinese Communist Party took the opportunity to develop and expand without interference, ultimately leading to the fall of mainland China. President Chiang’s lines that the consequences of failing to eliminate the communists would result in the demise of the party and the country, and death of each individual were nearly fully realized in the 38th year of the Republic (1949) with the fall of mainland China. President Chiang’s profound insight in the first paragraph was no less than prophecy.

Handwritten letter from President Chiang Kai-shek to Chu P’ei-te, dated 13 March 1934. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

I have not had the honour to come across the ceremonial sword presented to the graduates of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps in the 22nd year of the Republic (1933). President Chiang was nonetheless dissatisfied with the design of this batch of ceremonial swords. On 13 March in the 23rd year of the Republic (1934), he wrote a letter to Chu P’ei-te (朱培德), director of the Training Directorate Department (訓練總監部). It reads:

“Director Chu,

If army officers decided to carry the naval short swords, the length and dimensions must be specified. They should not be too short. They should be similar to the current naval ceremonial sword. The swords of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps are too short, they are not presentable. Please pay attention to this matter.

Chung-cheng.”

A page from the documents concerning Regulations on Army Uniforms prepared by the Judicial Yuan in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

A page from the documents concerning Regulations on Army Uniforms prepared by the Legislative Yuan in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

Front cover of Regulations on Army Uniforms issued in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

Inside page of Regulations on Army Uniforms issued in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

Inside page of Regulations on Army Uniforms issued in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

Inside page of Regulations on Army Uniforms issued in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

By 21 January in the 25th year of the Republic (1936), the Judicial Yuan published Regulations on Army Uniforms. Under the column of ‘Short Sword’, it clearly specifies the dimensions of short swords with illustrative diagrams. It says:

“Overall length is 39 cm, hilt length is 11.2 cm, guard thickness is 3 mm, scabbard length is 27.5 cm, hilt width is 3 cm, scabbard opening width is 3 cm, scabbard end width is 2.2 cm. The hilt is made of tortoiseshell. On both sides, the middle and the top of the hilt are encased in gold copperplate and carved with prunus pattern, and the tortoiseshell part is wrapped with oblique gold thread. The guard is also gold copper-plated, without carved pattern. The scabbard body is white nickel-plated, but the scabbard opening and scabbard end are both wrapped in gold plate and carved with pattern. The scabbard opening is wrapped in copper 3.2 cm long, while the scabbard end is wrapped in copper 6 cm long. The blade length is 26 cm. There is a spring-loaded switch at the junction of the hilt and the scabbard (see illustration).

An illustration of Regulations on Army Uniforms issued in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

An illustration of Regulations on Army Uniforms issued in 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

The short sword is worn with a leather sword belt. The belt is made of two layers of fine dark yellow leather, with a small leather strap on both sides of the belt opening, each with a double button and buttonhole, to be attached to the lower left side of the main belt (see illustration).”

First page of handwritten letter from President Chiang Kai-Shen to Chou Chün-yen and T’ang Sheng-chih, dated 28 June 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

Second page of handwritten letter from President Chiang Kai-shek to Chou Chün-yen and T’ang Sheng-chih, dated 28 June 1936. Photograph courtesy Academia Historia

After the graduation of the first class of Lu-shan Military Officers Training Corps in the 22nd year of the Republic (1933), three years later, the trend of ceremonial swords became ever more widespread, reaching out to all military cadets. On 28 June in the 25th year of the Republic (1936), President Chiang wrote to Chou Chün-yen (周駿彥), director of the Military Supplies Bureau of the Department of Military and Political Affairs (軍政部軍需署), instructing him to forward the letter to Director T’ang Sheng-chih (唐生智) of the Training Directorate Department (訓練總監部). It reads:

“Director Chou,

Please forward this letter to Director T’ang. Each military cadet in every province shall be issued a short sword, assigned with serial number, and inscribed with the words ‘Gift from Chung-cheng’. Priority can perhaps be given to cadets in Nanking, Chen-chiang, and Su-chou. If production cannot keep up, delay is acceptable for other places. The leather sword belt and sword frog should be issued at the same time with the sword. The design of the sword should not be as long as those made for officers, they can be shorter by one or two inches.

Chung-cheng. On the 28th.”

The trend of ceremonial sword most likely ended with the victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in the 34th year of the Republic (1945). Unfortunately, there is no government archive to substantiate this. A considerable number of ceremonial swords were made, but with the fall of mainland China to the communists, soldiers under the National Government were either executed by the communists or imprisoned for decades. To be alive was already hard enough, how would they be able to keep their swords? For nearly thirty years after the 38th year of the Republic (1949), nationwide purges and home searches were carried out continually in mainland China. For ordinary people, how would they dare to secretly harbour such swords, and risk death and annihilation of their entire families? Therefore, many swords were disposed and destroyed. Now they have become difficult to find. Rare as they are, they bear immense historical and cultural significances, even archaic bronzes from the Shang and Chou dynasties diminish in symbolism by comparison. In my collection there are two treasured ceremonial swords from the Army, one ceremonial sword from the Air Force, and a telescope from the Navy. They all have Chinese characters casted or incised, making them particularly unusual and precious.

Front of ceremonial sword of the Army with the words: “A Gift from Principal Chiang Chung-cheng (original name of Chiang Kai-shek)”

The first ceremonial sword in my collection is from the Army. These words were casted: “A Gift from Principal Chiang Chung-cheng” 

Detail of sword grip with the words: “A Gift from Principal Chiang Chung-cheng (original name of Chiang Kai-shek)”

Ink rubbing of sword grip with the words: “A Gift from Principal Chiang Chung-cheng (original name of Chiang Kai-shek)”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

On the pommel there is the emblem of prunus, the national flower of the Republic of China.

On the front of the grip there are six characters casted in relief: “Hsiao-ch’ang Chiang Chung-cheng Tseng (校長蔣中正贈meaning: A Gift from Principal Chiang Chung-cheng)”.

Back of ceremonial sword with the words: “To Commemorate the Graduation of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers Special Training Class”

On the back of the grip there are seventeen characters in two rows casted in relief: “Chung-yang Lu-chün Chün-kuan Hsüeh-hsiao, T’e-pieh Hsün-lien-pan Pi-yeh Chi-nien (中央陸軍軍官學校,特別訓練班畢業紀念 meaning: To Commemorate the Graduation of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers Special Training Class)”.

Detail of sword grip with the words: “To Commemorate the Graduation of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers Special Training Class”

Ink rubbing of sword grip with the words: “To Commemorate the Graduation of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers Special Training Class”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

Back of sword blade engraved with the words: “Martial Spirit (軍人魂)”

Sword grip and blade

On the front of the blade a set of numbers and the name of the graduate with two characters were incised: “133, Li X”

On the back of the blade there are three incised characters: “Chün-jen-hun (軍人魂 meaning: Martial Spirit).”

Prunus design on locket of scabbard

Prunus design on chape of scabbard

Sword blade and scabbard

Ink rubbings of the front and back of the ceremonial sword of the Army with the words : “A Gift from Principal Chiang Chung-cheng”. Ink rubbings made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

The cross-guard is 5.5 cm wide, and the length from the hilt to the end of the scabbard is 40 cm.

The “Central Military Academy of Army Officers Special Training Class (中央陸軍軍官學校特別訓練班)” marked on the back of the grip was first established in July of the 22nd year of the Republic (1933) in Nanchang City, Kiangsi Province. It was initially known as the Central Military Academy Kiangsi Summer Research Class (中央軍校駐贛暑期研究班). It was renamed the Central Military Academy Research Class (中央軍校研究班) in October of the same year. In June the following year, which is the 23rd year of the Republic (1934), it was renamed the Central Military Academy of Army Officers Special Training Class (中央陸軍軍官學校特別訓練班). The Special Training Class was founded in Nanchang City (南昌市) in Kiangsi Province (江西省), and later relocated in succession to Hai-hui Town (海會鎮) in Kiangsi Province, Hsing-tzu County (星子縣) in Kiangsi Province, Chiang-ling County (江陵縣) in Hupeh Province (湖北省), Feng-tu County (豐都縣) in Szechwan Province (四川省), and Ho-ch’uan County (合川縣) in Szechwan Province (四川省). The Special Training Class was originally intended for anti-communist operations, but later made immense contributions to the war effort against Japanese invasion. With the victory of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in the 34th year of the Republic (1945), the Special Training Class and the other provincial branches of the Military Academy all disbanded.

It is rare to come across a ceremonial sword with the words “A Gift from Principal Chiang Chung-cheng” on the grip, not to say when there is the additional engraving of “Martial Spirit” on the blade. President Chiang fostered this “Martial Spirit” to model the Revolutionary Army, which led to the near complete eradication of the communists and the ultimate victory in the war against Japan. In the eight years of war against Japan, the number of Chinese Army casualties, injuries, and missing personnel totaled 3,211,419, the number of Chinese Air Force pilots killed totaled 4,321, and the whole Chinese Naval fleet was lost. Eight generals, forty-five lieutenant generals, and one hundred and fifty-three major generals died in action fighting against Japan, validation of the martial spirit embodied by the military officers and their fervent implementatio

Front of ceremonial sword of the Army with the words: “Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity (親愛精誠)”

The second ceremonial sword in my collection is also from the Army. These words were casted: “Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity”.

Detail of sword grip with the words: “Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity (親愛精誠)”

Ink rubbing of sword grip with the words: “Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity (親愛精誠)”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

On the pommel there is the emblem of prunus, the national flower of the Republic of China.

On the front of the grip there are four characters casted in relief: “Ch’in-ai Ching-ch’eng (親愛精誠 meaning: Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity).”

Back of ceremonial sword with the words: “To Commemorate the Cadet Graduation of Class Twelve of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers, Canton Branch”

On the back of the grip there are twenty-four characters in two rows casted in relief: “Chung-yang Lu-chün Chün-kuan Hsüeh-hsiao Ti Shih-erh Ch’i, Kuang-chou Fen-hsiao Hsüeh-sheng Tsung-tui Pi-yeh Chi-nien (中央陸軍軍官學校第十二期,廣州分校學生總隊畢業紀念 meaning: To Commemorate the Cadet Graduation of Class Twelve of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers, Canton Branch).

Detail of sword grip with the words: “To Commemorate the Cadet Graduation of Class Twelve of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers, Canton Branch”

Ink rubbing of sword grip with the words: “To Commemorate the Cadet Graduation of Class Twelve of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers, Canton Branch”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

Front of sword blade engraved with the words: “Victory, Martyrdom (成功成仁)”

Sword grip and blade

Ink rubbing of sword blade with the words: “Victory, Martyrdom (成功成仁)”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

On the front of the blade these four characters in two rows were incised: “Ch’eng-kung, Ch’eng-jen (成功,成仁 meaning: Victory, Martyrdom)”. 

Prunus design on locket of scabbard

Prunus design on chape of scabbard

Sword blade and scabbard

Ink rubbings of the front and back of the ceremonial sword of the Army with the words: “Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity (親愛精誠)”. Ink rubbings made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

The cross-guard is 5.5 cm wide, and the length from the hilt to the end of the scabbard is 40 cm.

In the 20th year of the Republic (1931), Chen Chi-tang (陳濟棠) established the Kwangtung Military and Political Academy (廣東軍事政治學校) in Yen-t'ang Village (燕塘村), Canton. It is also known as the Yen-t’ang Military Academy.  The first cadet class graduated from the Academy in July of the 23rd year of the Republic (1934). In the 25th year of the Republic (1936), the Nanking National Government took over the Kwangtung Military and Political Academy and it was reorganized as the Central Military Academy of Army Officers Canton Branch . The graduation of Class Twelve of the Central Military Academy of Army Officers Canton Branch took place in the 27th year of the Republic (1938). The Class comprised 99 cadets in the first infantry battalion, 98 cadets in the second infantry battalion, 94 cadets in the third infantry battalion, 140 cadets in the first artillery battalion, 104 cadets in the second artillery battalion, 60 cadets in the engineering and transportation battalion, 114 cadets in the management battalion, and 85 cadets in the communications battalion, totaling 794 graduates.

Front cover of Recollections of the Founding of Whampoa Military Academy by Wang Pai-ling

Inside page of Recollections of the Founding of Whampoa Military Academy by Wang Pai-ling

According to Recollections of the Founding of Whampoa Military Academy by Wang Pai-ling (王柏齡), the motto of the Academy was already prominently displayed above the main entrance on the First School Day Ceremony of the First Class of the Military Academy on 16 June in the 13th year of the Republic (1924). He wrote:

“Starting from the main gate, lanterns and decorations were hung up high, the horizontal plaques and calligraphic couplets in particular have sentences with striking admonitions. The writings were not like the old ‘Good Luck’ nor the fashionable ‘Tomorrow... Today...’ contents. The school motto ‘Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity’ (親愛精誠)  was the first to be displayed above the main gate, and the plaque above the second gate proclaimed our mission: ‘Inherit the past and pioneer the future’ (繼往開來). There were many more calligraphic couplets, but unfortunately, I did not write them down.”

The Military Academy of Army Officers vigorously promoted its motto “Affection, Love, Dedication, Sincerity” since the founding day, and the characters on the sword grip are reminders like morning bell and evening drum to future officers. The blade is further incised with President Chiang’s encouragement: “Victory, Martyrdom” (成功成仁), meaning: “As revolutionary soldiers, we either annihilate the enemy (victory) or we fight to the death ourselves (martyrdom)”. The sword is a sculpted motto to be carried into marches and battles.

Front of ceremonial sword of the Air Force with the words: “Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldier’s Disgrace”

Ink rubbing of front of ceremonial sword of the Air Force with the words: “Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldier’s Disgrace”

The third ceremonial sword in my collection is from the Air Force. These words were incised: “Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldiers’ Disgrace”. 

Sword pommel and grip with divine eagle emblem

Ink rubbing of divine eagle emblem. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

At the pommel and grip there is the divine eagle emblem, the symbol of the Air Force of the Republic of China.

Front of sword blade engraved with the words: “Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldier’s Disgrace”

Ink rubbing of sword blade with the words: “Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldier’s Disgrace”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

On the front of the blade eight characters in two rows were incised: Kuo-t’u wei-fu, chün-jen chih ch’ih (國土未復,軍人之恥 meaning: Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldier’s Disgrace)

Prunus design on locket of scabbard

Wing design on chape of scabbard

Sword blade and scabbard

The cross-guard is 7 cm wide, and the length from the hilt to the end of the scabbard is 37.5 cm.

In the 17th year of the Republic (1928), following the success of the Northern Expedition, the Central Military Academy of Army Officers in Nanking established its first aviation squadron. In the following year, it was renamed Aviation Class. In the 20th year of the Republic (1931), it relocated to Chien-ch’iao (筧橋), Hang-chou City. After reorganization it became Aviation Academy of the Military and Political Affairs Department (軍政部航空學校). In the 21st year of the Republic (1932), it was renamed Central Aviation Academy (中央航空學校), under the jurisdiction of the National Government's Military and Political Ministry Aviation Department (國民政府軍政部航空署), with President Chiang serving as principal. To this day, the Republic of China’s Air Force still regards Chien-ch'iao in Hang-chou as their birthplace. In the 23rd year of the Republic (1934), the Aviation Department was reorganized into the Aviation Commission (航空委員會) under the Military Affairs Commission (軍事委員會), with President Chiang serving as chairman. In January of the 25th year of the Republic (1936) Madame Chiang Kai-shek was appointed secretary-general of the Aviation Commission, earning her the reputation as mother of the Chinese Air Force.

When did the custom of ceremonial sword begin for the Air Force? I suspect it also started after the graduation ceremony of the Lu-shan Military Officer Training Corps in the summer of the 22nd year of the Republic (1933). There is never any character casted or engraved on the divine eagle sword grip. Furthermore, most of the blades are devoid of inscription. However, the sword in my collection has two rows of engraved characters: “Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldier’s Disgrace.” This is especially rare. On 18 September in the 20th year of the Republic (1931), the Japanese engineered the Mukden Incident, occupying the three northeastern provinces of Liaoning (遼寧), Kirin (吉林), and Heilungkiang (黑龍江). On 4 March in the 21st year of the Republic (1932), the Japanese occupied Je-ho (熱河) , and on 9 March in the same year, they established the puppet state of Manchukuo. Hence from the 22nd year of the Republic (1933) onwards, a small number of ceremonial swords of the Air Force had words engraved on the blades, this piece incised with the words: “Nation’s Land Unrecovered is a Soldier’s Disgrace”, an exhortation to martyrdom.

Telescope of the Navy with the words: “Whampoa Naval Academy”

Ink rubbing of telescope with the words: “Whampoa Naval Academy”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

The fourth item, a telescope, is from the Navy. These words were incised: “Whampoa Naval Academy”.

Detail of objective lens

The diameter of the objective lens is 3.7 cm.

Lower end of optical tube engraved with the words: “Whampoa Naval Academy”

Ink rubbing of lower end of optical tube with the words: “Whampoa Naval Academy”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

The diameter of the eyepiece is 4 cm.

On the lower end of the optical tube there are six engraved characters: “Huang-p’u Hai-chün Hsueh-hsiao (黃埔海軍學校 meaning: Whampoa Naval Academy).

At the front of the lower end of the extended optical tube, these words were engraved: “ROSS, London, No. 72311”

Ink rubbing of the words: “ROSS, London, No. 72311”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

At the front of the lower end of the extended optical tube, a line of English words and a line of numbers were incised: “ROSS, London, No. 72311”.

At the back of the lower end of the extended optical tube, these words were engraved: “G. Falconer & Co Ltd, Hong Kong”

 

Ink rubbing of the words: “G. Falconer & Co Ltd, Hong Kong”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

At the back of the lower end of the extended optical tube, two lines of English words were incised: “G. Falconer & Co Ltd, Hong Kong”.

Optical tube and extended optical tube

The length of the optical tube is 42.8 cm, and with the extended optical tube, it measures 58.7 cm.

The history of Whampoa Naval Academy dates back a long way. In the 13th year of the Kuang-hsü reign (1887), Chang Chih-tung (張之洞) the Viceroy of Kwangtung and Kwangsi Provinces, and Wu Ta-ch’eng (吳大澂) the governor of Kwangtung Province, established the Kwangtung Army and Navy School (廣東水陸師學堂) in Whampoa. In the 19th year of the Kuang-hsü reign (1893), Li Hung-chang (李鴻章) the Viceroy of Kwangtung and Kwangsi Provinces, renamed it Kwangtung Whampoa Naval School (廣東黃埔水師學堂). In the 30th year of the Kuang-hsü reign (1904), it was renamed Kwangtung Naval Torpedo School (廣東水師魚雷學堂). In the 33rd year of the Kuang-hsü reign (1907), it was renamed Kwangtung Naval Industrial School (廣東水師工業學堂). In the 1st year of the Republic (1912), it was renamed Kwangtung Naval Academy (廣東海軍學校). In the 13th year of the Republic (1924), Dr. Sun established the Military Academy of Army Officers (陸軍軍官學校) on the same site. In the 19th year of the Republic (1930), the Military Academy of Army Officers relocated to Nanking. The Naval Academy was reinstated and renamed Whampoa Naval Academy (黃埔海軍學校). In the 26th year of the Republic (1937), the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression broke out, leading to the relocation of the Academy. In the 28th year of the Republic (1939), it was temporarily closed. After China’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, there were plans to reopen the Academy, but mainland China soon fell to the communists.

The telescope was made by Ross Company in England, which was founded in 1830 in London, specializing in making cameras, camera lenses, telescopes, etc. During the First and Second World Wars, Ross Company was a supplier of telescopes to the British Royal Navy. In 1948, Ross Company went under a merger and was renamed Barnet Ensign Ross Ltd. In 1954, it became Ross-Ensign Ltd., and in 1975, it merged with Avimo Company. The telescope in my collection was probably purchased by the Whampoa Naval Academy from Ross Company sometime between the 19th year of the Republic (1930) to the 28th year of the Republic (1939). Each of their products had a serial number and this telescope was numbered 72311. G. Falconer & Co Ltd, the Asian agent of Ross Company in Hong Kong, was established in late 19th century.

After shipping the telescope to Canton, the Academy instructed some craftsmen to engrave the words: “Whampoa Naval Academy”. With the outbreak of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the whole Chinese Navy was lost after a year and more. The telescope left behind by the Whampoa Naval Academy is dearly cherished, evoking poignant memories of the lost navy.

Calligraphy of “The Spirit of Whampoa” by President Chiang Kai-shek

In the 38th year of the Republic (1949), mainland China fell to the communists and the central government relocated to Taiwan. On 16 April in the following year, President Chiang Kai-shek delivered a speech at Yang-ming-shan Chalet. Once again he urged the military officers to uphold the martial spirit of Free China in the midst of catastrophe. His words were especially heart-rending. He said:

“It has been twenty six years since the establishment of our National Revolutionary Army. In these twenty six years, we have sacrificed millions of officers and soldiers, incurred incalculable loss on our citizens’ lives and properties. These soldiers and civilians were all dedicated to the cause of the National Revolution. We can also say, they had no hesitation to sacrifice all they have, their lives and properties, for our history and glory. For the price of this immeasurable sacrifice, can we casually abandon all this, and disregard all this? One should be aware that their sacrifice had a specific purpose, a profound meaning. They embraced a great and lofty ideal, hoping that those of us who survive can continue their aspirations, accept the responsibilities, realize The Three Principles of the People, and complete the National Revolution, so that our entire nation and people can truly attain independence, freedom, and enjoy prosperity and happiness. Hence they were determined to go through hell and fire, and charged into dangers and battles, even in death, they did not flinch. However, up to today, not only have we achieved nothing, furthermore, by the end of last year our revolutionary cause can be said to have been a complete failure! …

But today, of all our generals and officers, how many can truly self-reflect, acknowledge the mistakes and repent? If the majority of the generals and officials can clearly recognize the humiliation, shoulder the responsibilities, rise up with strength, then our revolutionary cause would never have failed to such a painful state as today. Therefore, I believe that what is especially important for our revolutionary soldiers today is to understand honour and disgrace, discern life and death, take responsibility, and uphold integrity. ...

Today, we have retreated to Taiwan and a few isolated islands in the southeast. We have truly reached the final critical stage, with nowhere else to retreat. If our senior generals who defend the country do not thoroughly comprehend the issue of personal life and death, and continue to act as shameful cowards like in the past, afraid of death, surrender when captured, then not only will you fail to protect your family, but you will also bring endless shame to the nation, the people, the party, and the revolutionary history. ...

Coming to Taiwan is the final moment of life and death for our revolution. If unfortunately we fail, then we will have to fulfill our duty to die for the country. Cross-referencing the aforesaid, you know that I never spoke lightly of the word ‘death’ before. Here in particular, we must act according to our words, and follow through with our words. You can understand the seriousness of my words.

In summary, from now on we are left with one choice only, that is to launch a counterattack on mainland China, to eliminate the communist bandits, to achieve complete victory. We can then avoid death. If not, once Taiwan falls into the hands of the enemy, I have personally decided to die for the country, and I will not disgrace you as your commander, as your leader, and I will not allow you, my comrades and officers in the party, to be humiliated because of me. All of you must also be determined to seek victory or martyrdom, swear with your life to accomplish the mission. If you do not have this determination, only ‘clinging to life and fearing death’, this is not just meaningless, moreover, this will only disgrace your country and your parents! ...

I believe the fundamental creed for us soldiers is encapsulated in only two words: ‘love’ and ‘death’. Because we have passionate love, that is why we aspire to be soldiers.  What do soldiers love? We love our country, love our compatriots, love our history, love our culture. What does it mean to love? The meaning of love varies, and the depth of love varies. What we call love is a doctrine and a belief. To love this, for this love, we are prepared to sacrifice our own lives without hesitation. Only then can this be called true love. Since we love our country, love our compatriots, love our history, love our culture, if our country is in danger and is going to be exterminated, our people are in distress, our history and culture are threatened with destruction, we must use all our strength, even if we sacrifice our lives, to save, protect and safeguard them. Therefore, a soldier, for his true love, is willing to die without hesitation, to die for what he loves and believes in, he can then close his eyes in peace. It can also be said that he seeks virtue and attains virtue, he has a fitting death.”

As the Armed Forces of the Republic of China commemorates its centenary, I respectfully read the texts of the speeches by Dr. Sun and President Chiang, and peruse the swords and telescope of the Army, Air Force and Navy. I contemplate the notions of country, compatriots, history, culture, life, death, past times, present period, national soul, martial spirit. Waves of emotions converge, a deluged world all around. When will the sky be finally cleared? The lustre of the ceremonial sword impels my life-long yearning, may this tenuous body of mine be disposed to patch-up the deep regrets in history.

Ink rubbing of “Martial Spirit (軍人魂)”. Ink rubbing made by Mr. Chang Shui-ho

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