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A hidden holiday in TAS’ calendar

The 228 Memorial Park is located at 3 Ketegalan Blvd. and contains memorials to victims of the 228 Massacre. [AMANDA CHIU/THE BLUE & GOLD]
The 228 Memorial Park is located at 3 Ketegalan Blvd. and contains memorials to victims of the 228 Massacre. [AMANDA CHIU/THE BLUE & GOLD]

The 228 Peace Memorial Day is an annual holiday held on Feb. 28 in order to honor the people that were murdered by the Kuomintang military forces on Feb. 27, 1947. As a memorial, the President of Taiwan leads a special ceremony and honors those who were affected by the 228 Massacre. Taiwanese people treat this day as a day of sadness and reflection. Despite this atrocious massacre, the history and reason behind this incident has been fading away throughout the years.
The most commonly known spark of the 228 Massacre was the confiscation of tobacco and cigarettes from an old woman who was selling them to customers illegally. During that time, tobacco and cigarettes were government properties in which only the Taiwanese government could sell them. However, when the police were seizing her cigarettes, Taiwanese bystanders took action and rallied against the police. During this conflict,  one of the protesters attempted to strike an officer. The officer retaliated by shooting the protester and triggered more people to join the protest. The government used military force to end the protest since the protesters would not cooperate. The massacre resulted in 10,000 to 30,000 casualties. Yet, this was the last straw.
Before the protest, Taiwanese inhabitants and the Chinese who fled from China after the Chinese Civil War were not on peaceful terms. In 1945, when Japan was forced to leave Taiwan after their defeat in World War II, the Kuomintang took control of Taiwan. “Japan had a tradition: no matter how badly the soldiers had lost, they would still iron their uniform, clean up themselves, and maintain a soldier’s image.” Upper School Mandarin teacher Mrs. Wendy Linett, said. In contrast, the Chinese soldiers who fled from China to Taiwan had torn uniform, messy hair, and looked nothing like a soldier. “Taiwanese had a bad first impression of the Chinese soldiers when they saw the difference between the disciplined Japanese soldiers and the rogue-liked Chinese soldiers,” Mrs. Linett said. 
Despite speaking the same language, Mandarin, many Chinese soldiers also had strong accents, which Taiwanese people found hard to understand. In addition, Taiwanese people studied Japanese during Japan’s colonization and Taiwanese at home with their parents. The language barrier made communication challenging. 
Along with the difficulties regarding communication, the KMT was not devoted to reconstructing and improving Taiwan. “Their focus was on planning ways to return and defeat the Chinese Communist Party in China. They did not care about Taiwan or even education for the soldiers. All they wanted was to go back home to China,” Mrs. Linett said. It was not until 1971 when Taiwan withdrew from the United Nation and President Chiang Jing-Kuo decided to turn his attention on renovating Taiwan into a more advanced country. 
In reflection, the 228 Massacre did not occur simply because of the conflict between the police and Taiwanese people on selling cigarettes. “Taiwanese people and the Chinese soldiers both significantly impacted and resulted in this incident. We cannot blame this massacre all on the Chinese soldiers who moved to Taiwan. We have to blame those who abused their authorities, whether it is the Taiwanese police who supported their Taiwanese fellows or the Chinese soldiers who were backing their friends up.” Mrs. Linett said. 

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