Notes from China-Norman Bethune,
November 12, 2013 marked the 75th anniversary of the death of the famed Canadian surgeon Dr. Norman Bethune (Chinese pinyin Bai Qiuen), who died in 1939 helping the Chinese fight the invading Japanese Army. I have written a previous “Notes from China” about this man and his heroic status in China. Suffice to say that there were several events to mark this auspicious occasion both in Shijiazhuang( where I used to teach and where Bethune is buried) as well as in Gravenhurst ,Ontario where Dr. Bethune was born. A Canadian delegation visited Shijiazhuang where there are several schools and hospitals bearing his name, including the Norman Bethune Military Medical College where my dear friend Qi Ming is head of the English Department .Mr. Qi spent 1 year in Canada working at the Norman Bethune Museum in Gravenhurst and often travels to Canada to take part in events celebrating the life of this great Canadian. He recently traveled to Beijing to be the special representative of Roderick Stewart at the launch of Stewart’s new book entitled Phoenix, Life of Norman Bethune. Next year Mr Qi will help coordinate an exhibit called “Trail of Solidarity” to be held in Canada, Spain and China. What many Chinese and Canadians do not know is that Bethune first fought for liberty and freedom in Spain. In 1936 Bethune, along with hundreds of other Canadians, went to Spain to fight against Fascism. This fact has recently been recognized in the form of a very moving monument situated on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Canada just above Rideau Falls and not far from the Spanish Embassy (see pic). The names of all 1,534 Canadians, including Bethune’s, are inscribed on the monument. Above the names are the following words written by the celebrated Spanish revolutionary Dolores Ibarruri:
“You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of democracy’s solidarity and universality. We shall not forget you. And when the olive tree of peace puts forth its leaves again, come back. All of you will find the love and gratitude of the whole Spanish people”.
I hope that one day you can have the opportunity to visit this tranquil place, see the monument and enjoy the spectacular view of the falls and the Ottawa River . It’s a great spot to reflect on both the past and the future.