Friday, June 13, 2008

China Day 14: A Post for Pop

This one's for you, Dad!

Our first stop in Chongqing was the Stilwell Museum, dedicated to General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, who was the Chief of Staff in the Chinese Theater of Operations during World War II, from 1942-1944.
The Stilwell Museum building is the house in which General Stilwell lived at the time; most of the main rooms still contain the original furniture and on the lower level there is an extensive display of WWII era photographs with descriptions. Dad knew all about General Stilwell, and had a great time looking at all the exhibits.

I learned a lot today: that Chongqing was the wartime capital of the Nationalist Party/Kuomintang, that General Stilwell was supplying Chiang Kai-Shek with materials and support so they could fight the Japanese, but he was instrumental in getting the USA to talk to Mao and his Communists and give them aid too.

I learned about the Soong Sisters too - it was quipped that "One loved money, one loved power and one loved China" because the eldest, Soong Ai-Ling, married China's richest man, the youngest, Soong May-Ling, married Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, and the middle sister, Soong Ching-Ling, married Sun Yat-Sen, the first President of the Republic of China. I need to read a biography of these interesting ladies!

Across the parking lot from the Stilwell Museum
is the Flying Tigers Museum, dedicated to the 1st American Voluntary Air Group who shot down a lot of Japanese planes and helped keep the Japanese East of where the Three Gorges Dam is now. At the museum, we heard a lecture by a professor at Chongqing University (with a very dramatic speaking style!) all about the Flying Tigers.

After this, Dad went off into the other rooms of the museum while I stayed for the second lecture: an art professor showed us how to create a flower painting using big ink brushes: in just a few minutes he produced a complete, detailed painting:

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