I want to thank Ms. Pu Hong, the Director General of the Foreign Affairs Office and of course my sweet friend Bernice Li for arranging for me to meet with you this evening.
We all have someone or something that has inspired them. As I learned about my grandfather, General Claire Chennault and his contributions to our world I have been inspired. People that I meet often ask me if my grandfather would tell me tales of his travels to China or any of the amazing things he accomplished and I always tell them, that to me, General Chennault was just a grandfather, he listened to my stories when I was a young girl. It was my mother, Rosemary Chennault, his daughter who told me of the sacrifices that were made by his family when he left for China.
When my mother and I traveled to China for the first time in 2002 we did not know what to expect. We were overwhelmed at the warm reception that we received from the Chinese people but more importantly we were told stories of the great suffering and sacrifice of the Chinese during the 14 years of Japanese occupation. We finally understood why my grandfather knew that he had to stay to help the Chinese people. We also understood that very few Americans know of these sacrifices and how important it was for us to work hard to see that these stories were not only told in China but also in the Unites States.
My grandfather no longer can tell his story and my mother’s voice has been silenced as well. This is why it has become so important to me to be their voice.
The relationship between China and the United States is the most important relationship in our world today. In my grandfather’s words that he wrote in his memoirs “Way of a Fighter” in 1949 he said;
It is my fondest hope that the sign of the Flying Tiger will remain aloft as long as it is needed on both shores of the Pacific as the symbol of two great peoples working toward a common goal in war and peace”.
We have to remember what was gained when we fought together as brothers to defeat one of the greatest enemies the world has ever known. Without this victory we would not be here today.
It is up to us today to work together toward our common goals: prosperity, stability, respect and understanding. These goals are not impossible. We once moved mountains to build supply lines. We learned foreign languages to create better understanding. We crossed oceans and defied gravity to protect our homes and families and we succeeded.
Today our challenges are great. That is why this 75th anniversary is so very important for us to remember. We must continue to build on the relationship that was formed during a time of battle and of victory so that our future generations will have a life like we have all enjoyed. We may not have mountains to move or oceans to cross but we must fight together to build understanding and appreciation for each other’s cultural differences and educate people of all ages not only about our history but how this history can be used to enhance the future for our children and grandchildren.
I have brought several of my family members to China. Now they too can be a voice for the kindness and generosity that was shown to them by the Chinese people. You all have a voice and this voice is vital for the future of our countries. It is the people where the relationships are formed. Especially our young people who will be the leaders of tomorrow that we must teach about our shared history.
My grandfather’s legacy is what has inspired me to realize what one person can do to try to change the world. I am only one person but I believe that we can face today’s challenges and overcome our differences. I promise you that I will continue to work very hard to make a difference and I want to challenge each and everyone here tonight to do the same. We can build bridges of peace and understanding to give our children and grandchildren a better world.