Spring and fall memorials in honor of national martyrs
The central government on the mornings of March 29 and September 3 holds memorial services to pay tribute to people who have lost their lives in service to the nation. In both the March and September events, military personnel, public servants, and civilians killed in the line of duty are commemorated. In addition, respects are also paid in March to revolutionaries who died in the fight to overthrow the Qing court in the early 20th century.
These spring and fall memorial ceremonies are held at the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine in the Yuanshan area of Taipei. Set back from Beian Road, the shrine backs up against lush mountains while looking out to the front over the Keelung River. Completed on March 25, 1969, it covers an area of over 15,000 pings (49,575 square meters), including more than 1,600 pings (5,288 square meters) of floor space in the shrine itself. The quiet and secluded setting is both solemn and respectful.
The ceremony at the Sanctuary is conducted by the President with the assistance of the Vice President and the presidents of the five branches of ROC government, and attended by high-ranking central and local government civilian and military officials, along with relatives of the military personnel or civilians who died in the line of duty. Also in attendance are representatives from the three branches of the military, civil servants, police, and firefighters. In all, over 700 people pay their respects. The Minister of the Interior pays his respects at the Civilian-Martyrs’ Shrine, accompanied by the secretaries-general of the five branches of ROC government. Meanwhile, the Minister of National Defense leads the ceremony at the Military-Martyrs’ Shrine, accompanied by the chief of the general staff, as well as commanders of the army, navy, air force, combined logistics command, and the reserve command.
The ceremony begins once the President’s vehicle arrives at the Martyrs’ Shrine. At this time, calls to attention can be heard. A tri-service honor guard salutes the President and the band plays solemn music. Once the President’s vehicle reaches the stone stairs to the Shrine Portal, the salute ends and the music ceases. The President gets out of the vehicle and the Secretary-General to the President and the Director-General of the Office of the President’s Third Bureau, protocol officer to the President, are waiting at that spot to welcome the President. The President is escorted to the Sanctuary by his Secretary-General, the Director-General of the Third Bureau, and the Chief Aide-de-camp to the President. The honor guard salutes and a band plays music. Once the President enters the Sanctuary, the music ceases and the salute ends. A bugler plays Sol-Mi-Do (i.e., “at ease”).
This solemn environment sets the stage as the master of ceremonies announces the beginning of the ceremony. Drums beat and bells sound. Persons paying their respects are in position. The band plays the national anthem, after which the President lights incense and places flowers at the spirit tablet. After a protocol officer reads an oration, the President leads the others accompanying him and those in attendance in bowing three times. The ceremony takes about 15 minutes. As the ceremony concludes, the band in the Sanctuary again plays solemn music while the President shakes hands and pays his respects to the representatives of survivors of the deceased.
The President is escorted out of the Sanctuary by his Secretary-General, the Director-General of the Third Bureau, and the Chief Aide-de-camp. The music ceases, the honor guard salutes, and the sounds of drums and bells fill the air. When the President emerges from the Shrine Portal, the troops end their salute. The President walks up to the stone stairs and gets into his vehicle and the sound of the drums and bells cease. The honor guard at the main gate salute and solemn music is played by the band. The President’s vehicle then leaves the premises.