Enemies share eternity together

Updated: 2014-04-14 08:20

By Dong Fangyu (China Daily)

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Enemies share eternity together

People pay their respects to the dead during this year's Qingming, or Tomb-Sweeping, Festival at Zhujiagang cemetery. Photos by You Zhongyuan / for China Daily

Cemetery holds bodies of Chinese and Japanese soldiers killed in battle, Dong Fangyu reports in Sihong, Jiangsu

Editor's note: History is, by definition, about past events, and while nothing can be done to change those events, forgetting them may lead to wrong roads being taken in the future. During the coming months, China Daily will present a series of regular reports about ordinary lives during World War II and the continuing impact of the conflict on the present and the future. This is the fifth report in the series.

On March 29, Jia Yuxia, finally concluded a search that had dominated her life for more than 60 years.

Less than three weeks ago, the 75-year-old retired teacher and statistician discovered the resting place of her father, who died in battle when Jia was aged 2. The remains of Jia Xibi, who was killed in 1942 at the Battle of Zhujiagang in northern Jiangsu province, had been interred in a war cemetery in the village of the same name.

Jia's only childhood memory related to her father is of her mother saying, "Your father is a handsome man, a good man, but he will be staying in a faraway place for a long time."

In 1954, when she was a middle school student, Jia took receipt of a "Martyr's Certificate" awarded to her late father by the government. "My whole life has been devoted to the search for my father's grave. I have visited countless cemeteries in many cities, but it wasn't until March that I read a book about military history, which quoted the funeral oration given after the Battle of Zhujiagang, that I finally saw my father's name."

The graveyard is a special place. Not only does it house the remains of the 73 Chinese soldiers from the New Fourth Army who died in the battle, but it's also home to the bodies of 13 Japanese soldiers. It's thought to be the only cemetery in China that is shared by patriotic Chinese and their enemies.

When she visited her father's final resting place, Jia's pride was mixed with anger. "Seeing the Japanese grave there, it was hard for me not to feel animosity toward them. If they hadn't invaded China, my father wouldn't have died when I was so young," she said.

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