Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cai Yuanpei (蔡元培) on 重陽節

I went to the Aberdeen Cemetery with my relatives to “sweep the grave”of my grandparents today. In fact, there is no grave to be swept. Only their ashes are kept there because of lack of space. Such is Hong Kong. Anyway, we do that twice a year, on 清明節 and 重陽節. Sometimes there are more than 20 of us there. Today we had 18.

And as usual, I sneaked off afterwards for a few minutes to pay my respects at 蔡元培‘s grave. As you can see, I was not the only one. Someone had placed flowers and incense at his grave before I did. What makes people come to his grave today even though he has been dead for 68 years? (He died in Hong Kong in 1940.)

Is it because he was one of the (many would say simply THE) greatest educators of modern China? Because he was the president of Beijing University during the May 4th Movement (五四运动)? That he supported the students and tried to help those arrested, and was forced to resign from Beijing University because of it? Have you ever heard of such a thing? In China?

That’s why I go there to pay my respects every year, sometimes twice a year.

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