(The Prudential Center Newark, 04/10/2013)
One of my childhood memories in Taiwan was the military dictatorship. The first characteristic of dictatorship was the motto of: ‘life as a eternal battle,’ which was to militarize every aspect in life. I was taught that the communists were an evil force, driven by a dangerous ideology, and there were enemies without and within the society. The second was the wide spread symbolism: national flags and the portraits of the leader were literally everywhere. In the morning, school kids had to go to the playground to march and sing military songs.
However, militarization did not bother me too much. Kids always knew ways to have fun. Military assemblies were good chances for exchanging porno, meeting girls and handing over love letters. National flags were great things to collect because you can resell them in stores and earned a pretty good pocket money.
What really irritated me was the national anthem section in the cinema. Before the movies, you had to stand up and sing ‘Three Principles of the People’, which sounds like a funeral and ultimately ruined a mood for entertainment. Therefore, after the dictatorship was ended in the 80s, one of my greatest delights was that I never have to stand up at any movie theatres anymore.
In the tenth of April, 2013, at the hockey stadium of New Jersey, out of my astonishment, I had my first national anthem section after twenty years.
So there I stood, tried to squeeze my mouth out of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Actually it was not a bad experience, the song fits with the hockey game in the stadium. Patriotism fits with sport shirts, banners and the cheerleaders.
After all, they are almost the same thing, is it not?