Measure love with our feet
It was another winter, near the National Memorial Day for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre, and there was also a layer of rain over Nanjing.
Looking back on the track of history, on the eve of the Nanjing Massacre, more than 20 foreigners risked their lives to establish a safety zone in Nanjing and rescued more than 250,000 Chinese refugees in those rainy days.
Eighty two years later, we took part in the Fourth International Peace Walk Event themed as "Thanksgiving: The Nanjing Safety Zone". We walked around the Nanjing Safety Zone to measure peace with our feet.
On the morning of November 30, the teachers and students in senior 1, who attended the optional course of Facing History and Ourselves gathered on the lawn of Nanjing Normal University (the former site of the refugee shelter of Jinling Women's College of Arts and Sciences), and together with Nanjing people and international friends from all walks of life, we formed ten square formations for this walk event. In recent weeks, students who attend our school's FHAO elective course are learning the history related to World War II. At this opportunity, students also prepared explanations about the Safety Zone, Minnie Wittlin statue, Rabe's former residence, etc.
As the dove-shaped balloons are released, the wish for peace rises in everyone's heart.
After the start of the event, more than 300 Chinese and foreigners divided into 10 square formations, walked around the Nanking Safety Zone, and measured the great love road of international friends with their feet.
When passing by the mass burial place of Wutai Mountain for Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, the former residence of Rabe, the former headquarters of the International Committee of the Nanjing Safety Zone, and the Marine National Defense Education Center, our passports wer stamped with unique commemorative seals. The drizzle began to fall on the road, and everyone did not flinch back and insisted on walking 8 kilometers.
On a winter day in 1937, did Nanjing City, as it does today, get lost in the mists and rain, and then covered a layer of frightening suspicious mist in people's hearts? Then, there was a lot of fighting and blood……
Returning to the lawn of the former refugee shelter of Jinling Women's College of Arts and Sciences, students received souvenirs – The flower seeds of the Chinese Violet Cress (also called The Flower of Peace) and Peace Commemorative Plates. Although there was no sun, the patterns of the Chinese Violet Cress on the commemorative plates are shining.
The event enabled participants to have a deeper understanding of the history and made the past which existed only in the written words real and meaningful. Those histories seem to be very ancient. The architecture of the Republic of China along the Ninghai Road let us go back to that era.
At that time, tens of thousands of refugees swarmed in, using the Safety Zone as the only support for survival. The people inside the wall were panic stricken, and the people outside the wall were shouted at and killed all over the city. What was Jinling/Nanjing like then? It's enough to be heartbreaking just to see the corpses in the black and white photos, not to mention the brutal "killing competition".
Nowadays, the lawn of Nanjing Normal University is vibrant. Rabe's former residence is isolated from the downtown. Minnie Wittlin's name is almost unknown. There are few people on the site of the former Committee of the Nanjing Safety Zone. Everything is no longer the same as before, but the world is peaceful. In contrast, we have peace and tranquility that the common people can't imagine what happened at that time, and the pain of history has been gradually reduced in the peaceful years.
But can we forget? No.
The walk event gives us a chance to approach the years of war. Stepping on the land once soaked with blood is like facing the stone tablet in the mass burial place of Wutai Mountain. We feel the pain in the deep mud, like the blood connected with the lost compatriots.
When the words "Remember the past, teach the future" and "Remember history, Cherish peace" reverberate in our hearts, we have a deeper understanding of the nation, of history, of the preciousness of peace.
After the event, we made posters and displayed them in the school lobby to let more people know about the history and the event. Students often stop in front of the display boards, said they would like to participate in such event, and have a deeper understanding of the past.
On the National Memorial Day on December 13, in order to enable more students to have a deeper understanding and thinking about the Nanjing Massacre, and to have the opportunity to express their thoughts, we asked all the students of our school to write down their thoughts and feelings on the gratitude board.
"Remember the past, teach the future" and "Never forget the national humiliation, cherish peace". Students expressed their thoughts on history, cherished and loved today's good life, and prayed for world peace with sincere language.