Robert F. Holden, Adjunct Professor of History
Atlantic Cape Community College, Cape May County, New Jersey
2006 China Study Tour Participant
I was truly honored to be one of the first American teachers to be included in this year’s Peace and Reconciliation Study Tour to China. It was both a fantastic and yet humbling experience. Working with my Canadian colleagues was an honor and privilege and I was so impressed by their knowledge and professionalism. They are all such dedicated teachers!
So little is taught in American schools about this chapter of history, and I now see it as my responsibility to advance the knowledge of teachers and students to know more about the atrocities committed in China by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Asia-Pacific War, 1931-1945.
On the tour, we heard the emotional story of Japanese Germ Warfare survivor, Yang Da Fang who quoted a Chinese phrase, “You cannot live under the same sky as those who killed your father.” As teachers of history, we all see this quote as being the clarion cry of our trip. None of us should rest until we have spread the word to as many teachers and students as possible about what happened in China during the war. Only then will social justice be served. Japan must, like Germany, acknowledge its crimes committed during the war, apologize formally for the crimes, and then offer compensation to the victims.
Every victim we heard give testimony, affirmed in us as educators, our collective sense of humanity, social justice, and the hope for peace in the world.
I have greatly benefited from every experience on this fantastic trip to China!