Sunday, August 31, 2014

My buddies, my company

For every healthy young man in Taiwan, compulsory military service of two or three years when they reach the age of twenty is their shared memory. The hard and tough barrack life often becomes sweet reminiscence and something they can boast of to their girlfriends and wives even long after their discharge. However, for most of them, their memories are just memories lingering on their minds, but these eighteen fellows do not think pictures in mind along are enough for them.  

These eighteen men were buddies and veterans of the Second Infantry Company, the 5th Infantry Battalion, the 956th Infantry Brigade of the 319th Infantry Division who had served in Kinmen between 1981 and 1983 . On the day of their discharge, they vowed to return their old company post every year to rejoin their comradeship. For years, in August, led by their old company commander and under their company color, they marched the trail to their old barrack. There, they would do the routine rollcall, sang marching songs, and stand their post, an outpost just a few thousand meters from communist-controlled mainland China.

Despite the tension between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has been easing in recent years and callings to demilitarize Kinmen and Matsu are often heard, these quinquagenarians still consider that guarding the tiny Kinmen against enemy invasion is their sacred mission. 

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