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Remarks by AIT Director William A. Stanton at Opening Ceremony of "Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the United States" Exhibit

OT-1112E | Date: 7/5/2011 | Ceremony in Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, July 4, 2011 | (As Prepared for Delivery)
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Timothy Yang, Education Minister Wu Ching-ji, and President Ma Ying-jeou join AIT Director William Stanton at the opening ceremony of

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Timothy Yang, Education Minister Wu Ching-ji, and President Ma Ying-jeou join AIT Director William Stanton at the opening ceremony of "Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the United States" exhibit. (Photo: AIT Images)

President Ma, Minister Yang, Minister Wu, Director General Tseng: Good morning.

Many of you know that today is then National Day for the United States so you may wonder why I am here to open an exhibit about Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China. I will tell you. I am here today because today is an important day to celebrate democracy.

On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln made a 3 minute speech to dedicate a memorial at the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Those 3 minutes literally changed the world for both the United States and Taiwan. He wanted to emphasize the importance of the battle that had been fought and he said that the important thing that was achieved was "…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Dr. Sun was so inspired by the words of President Lincoln that he used them to espouse his basic political philosophy which he called the "Three Principles of the People." Those three principles are Minzu Zhuyi, Minquan Zhuyi, and Minsheng Zhuyi.

These days the terms freedom and democracy are used a lot. In fact, they are used so much that their meaning can be lost. But, Dr. Sun and President Lincoln had a very clear idea of freedom and democracy. They both understood that government must come from the people and must serve the interests of the people. That is true freedom and democracy.

As you look around the exhibit today, you will see many interesting documents, photographs, and artifacts from Dr. Sun's time in the United States. I think it is only natural that Dr. Sun should have spent so much time in the United States and sought support for his ideas in the United States. Dr. Sun hoped that all his people could share in the ideals of a democratic country where each person has a right to express his thoughts and work toward a better life. This is the idea that led to the founding of the United States. We share this ideal.

As we listen to the news and hear about the Jasmine Revolutions in the Middle East. The people of Taiwan and the people of the United States should think back to the struggles our founders had to assure that we could live in free, democratic countries. We hope that those societies that are struggling toward freedom enjoy the same reward that the people of the United States and Taiwan are now enjoying.

This exhibit reminds us that the struggle toward democracy is not easy but it is worth it in the end. It should also remind us not to take our democracies for granted but that we should always uphold the principles exemplified by both President Lincoln and Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Government is from us the people, is by us the people, and if for us the people.

Thank you and enjoy the exhibit.

Director's Speeches