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'Honored' to attend WWII events in Taiwan: late U.S. doctor's children

'Honored' to attend WWII events in Taiwan: late U.S. doctor's children

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) Descendants of a late American physician who helped save many Chinese civilians during World War II said they were "honored" to visit Taiwan to attend commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. Robert O. Wilson's two daughters Elizabeth Wilson Hissing and Marjorie Wilson Massey Garrett and his son Robert O. Wilson Jr., arrived in Taiwan earlier Thursday on a visit that will last until Oct. 27, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. "We feel so honored that my father is being commemorated," said Garrett, 73, during a news conference with the local media in Taipei. "Because of him, we are sitting here right now," she said, describing the U.S. physician as "an amazing father." On their first trip to Taiwan, the three visitors also shared their memories of their father, who was born in Nanjing in 1906. At the age of 16, her father went back from China to study in the United States. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, her father went to work at a hospital in New York, where he met his wife, she said. "The Chinese are my people," she quoted her father as saying. After her parents were married, they moved to Nanjing in 1935 and were there until 1940, she said. After Robert O. Wilson returned to Nanjing, he served as a physician at a hospital under Gin Ling University. When the Japanese occupied Nanjing, then the capital of China, in 1937, he was the only doctor who remained at the hospital to treat local residents, according to the Foreign Ministry. At the time, he also joined many other foreign nationals, including German businessman John Rabe and U.S. missionary Minnie Vautrin, to help create a safety zone in Nanjing in 1937 when that city fell to Japanese troops during the War of Resistance against Japan. The zone provided shelter for more than 200,000 civilians and prevented them from being slaughtered by the Japanese army. One of the well-known atrocities by Japan during the war was the Nanjing (known as Nanking at the time) Massacre. On Dec. 13, 1937, Japanese troops broke through Nanjing's defenses and entered the then-capital of the Republic of China, occupying the city for more than a month. After witnessing the ROC's eight-year war against Japan (1937-1945), Robert O. Wilson did not tell his children what he went through during that period of time, according to his children. It was not until they met with Chinese-American author Iris Chang who wrote "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II" did they know what their parents had been through while in China, they said. During Thursday's event, Hissing also showcased a medal given from the ROC government to her father in 1938 honoring his contribution during the war. They are scheduled to meet with President Ma Ying-jeou (???) on Friday, during which they will receive a presidential citation from Ma on behalf of their father, the ministry said. The citation is to honor the U.S. physician's contribution during the war, it added. The visitors will also attend a ceremony on Oct. 25 to mark the 70th anniversary of the retrocession of Taiwan to the Republic of China in 1945 and visit an exhibition in Taipei on the war against Japan and another one in Tainan on the lives of Taiwanese people during WW II, the ministry said. The eight-year war against Japan was a part of WW II, in which Japan and the other Axis Powers were defeated by the Allied Powers. The ROC government has held a series of commemorative events in Taiwan to mark the anniversary of the end of war. Over the past few months, descendants of three late U.S. presidents and the families of Rabe and Vautrin have come to Taiwan to attend the events. The activities are being held in Taiwan because it is known formally as the Republic of China. That was the name used for all of mainland China from 1912 to 1949, but the ROC's seat of government moved to Taipei after the Nationalist government was defeated by the Communists in the Chinese civil war and retreated to Taiwan. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-20 17:13 GMT+08:00