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Crowds mark 111th anniversary of Madame Chiang Kai-shek's birth
【Politics】2008-03-19  19:26:15
Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Around 400 to 500 people who are fans of Taiwan's late first lady Soong May-ling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek, on Wednesday showed their deep appreciation of her by gathering in commemoration of the 111th anniversary of her birth.

She was born on March 10, 1897, or Feb. 12 on the lunar calendar which fell on Wednesday this year.

Although Madame Chiang passed away four years ago, "her love will stay forever with us as well as with all the organizations she set up, " said Cecilia Koo, chairwoman of the event organizer, the National Women's League of the Republic of China (NWL) . The League was founded by Madame Chiang in 1950.

Noting that Madame Chiang helped her husband, Taiwan's late President Chiang Kai-shek, conduct personal diplomacy and establish orphanages and schools for children who lost their parents between 1938 and 1946, during China's war with Japan and its civil war, Tsai Kong Ming-ru, executive director of the women's league, said that Madame Chiang was really a "sagacious, brave and luminous first lady."

Fu Da-ren, a veteran TV sports commentator in Taiwan who was raised in one of the orphanages founded by Madame Chiang, said that she was like a mother for the orphans, giving them love and concern.

"Her greatness cannot be expressed by any simple words, and her legacy is too much to be written within only a few books," Fu said. "Madame Chiang's spirit will exist in the world forever."

Yu Fan, another orphan who also grew up in one of the children's schools, said Madame Chiang is not only his mother but "mother of the nation."

During World War II, an estimated 30,000 children between 6 and 15 years old lost their father, mother, or both parents and were raised in the orphanages set up by Madame Chiang around China in different provinces, including Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Anhui, Hebei and Henan.

After the Kuomintang(KMT) government withdrew from China to Taiwan in 1949, Madame Chiang continued to set up schools, orphanages, and medical centers to take care of the children coming to Taiwan with the nationalist government then and after.

Huang Shang-chen, a sufferer of infantile paralysis, recalled her encounters with Madame Chiang while receiving treatment at the Cheng Hsin Rehabilitation Medical Center founded by Madame Chiang in Taipei City, and said that "she is the one helping us and who changed our lives."

"We will always miss you and forever thank you, and will pass on your love to future generations forever," Huang said.

Soong, the youngest of the well-known three Soong sisters, married Chiang on Dec. 1, 1927 and played a prominent role in politics of the Republic of China.

As Chiang rose to become Generalissimo and leader of the KMT, she acted as his English translator, secretary, and advisor.

Madame Chiang also tried to promote the Chinese cause and build a legacy for her husband on par with Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin during World War II. Well versed in both Chinese and western culture, she became popular both in China and abroad.

She made the cover of TIME magazine, first with her husband as "Man and Wife of the Year" and second under the title "Dragon Lady." Throughout the late 1960s, Madame Chiang was included on lists of America's 10 most admired women.

After the death of Chiang on April 5, 1975, she immigrated to Long Island, New York City, and passed away on Oct. 23, 2003 in her Manhattan apartment. Her remains are interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale in New York.

(By Howard Lin)

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