In the second piece marking the 74th anniversary of Taiwan’s 228 Incident by student in humanities and social science at Taipei First Girls’ High School, Yvonne Cho, she looks at a trio of important sites still carrying the message of what happened all those years ago.
After introducing what led up to and ultimately happened in the 228 Incident, I want to introduce three sites in modern Taipei that have direct relations to the 228 Incident.
National 228 Memorial Museum
The National 228 Memorial Museum is related to The 228 Memorial Foundation. In operation since 1995, it is a non-profit organization established by the government.
The museum is located on Nanhai Road, right next to Jianguo High School.
Exhibitions usually include a permanent exhibition about the 228 Incident and a special exhibition related to democratization and the victims of political incidents.
One of the specialities of this museum is a free audio touring system in English, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Hakka Chinese, and Japanese.
Scan the QR Codes shown on the permanent exhibit boards, then you can easily link to the introduction site. Listen to them carefully, some come with accompanying videos and transcripts.
Taipei 228 Memorial Museum
Located in 228 Peace Park, the Taipei (as opposed to National) 228 Memorial Museum is another place that is used to commemorate this incident.
The museum opened on the 50th anniversary of the Incident.
The building itself has its history directly connected to the incident.
It was built as the Taipei Broadcasting Bureau in the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) in 1930, and when the Nationalist government took over Taiwan, it was transformed into Taiwan Broadcasting Corporation.
At the time the 228 Incident happened, it played a crucial role in broadcasting news all over Taiwan. In the era without smartphones and the Internet, news about military movements, governments, people’s proposals and so on, relied heavily on this broadcasting bureau to communicate the news to the wider population.
There is also a banyan tree planted outside the museum to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Cheng Nylon’s death – an individual who played a crucial role in the pursuit of Taiwanese democracy.
The tree was planted by Chen Shui-bian, the former Taipei City Mayor and Taiwan president, legislator Yeh Chu-lan, and Cheng Nylon’s widow.
228 Memorial Monument
Right in the middle of the 228 Peace Park near the Presidential Office, this monument is one of the most meaningful and significant monuments of the 228 Incident.
In 1993, a competition for the design of the monument was held, and it was the largest design competition in Taiwan at that time.
One of the designers of the monument is Cheng Tze-Tsai, a political criminal who once attempted to assassinate Chiang Ching-Kuo (Chiang Kai-Shek’s son) in the 1970s.
The monument uses material bodies to achieve healing and comfort, transforming national trauma into a public commemoration space.
The monument is quite high, in the shape of a lightning conductor; the steel material is from Keelung – the Keelung Pier where the military used to lock down civilians.
There are palm marks inside the monument, and visitors can walk inside and put their own hands in these.
One meaning of this is to allow a victim’s relatives grieving over them to connect.
Another is to allow visitors in touching the palm prints to lean their bodies naturally and lower their heads, representing condolence.
Black steel balls above the water pool represent the blood of the victims.
The three sites are close to each other, and are in the neighborhood of the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (used to commemorate Chiang Kai-Shek) – one of the dislocations of Taiwan and its history.
We should keep this in mind so we can distinguish facts, and grab any and all opportunities to understand more about what happened at that time since many survivors are passing due to old age – and so we never let such a tragic incident happen again.