Since appearing on MidWeek‘s cover in August 1989, Lily Sun, granddaughter of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China, has kept busy honoring her grandfather’s legacy. She has written two books about his history, dedicated several statues of him in China and lectures about him all over the world.
Lily also is founding president of the Sun Yat-sen Foundation for Peace and Education, which is honoring Sun Yat-sen’s birthday (Nov. 12) with a special ceremony on Nov. 11. Along with her son Charles Wong, vice president of the foundation, they are rededicating the statue of Sun Yat-sen that stands on the corner of North Beretania and River Street. (Lily also has a second son, Alexander, who lives on the island.)
“We are going to have the Royal Hawaiian Band starting at 8:30 a.m., with ceremonies to begin at 9 with the dedication of lei. We’re inviting the public to participate in the festivities and dedicate double-length lei to Dr. Sun’s statue,” says Charles Wong. “We’re going to have firecrackers and lion dances. I’ve spoken with the organizers for Miss Chinatown and the Narcissus Queen, and they also want to participate.”
The statue, which was donated in 1976 by the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China, features Sun Yat-sen holding a book, “teaching the people.” The base of the statue was falling apart and was on the verge of being taken down by the city as a safety hazard when Lily’s foundation stepped in and built a new solid granite octagonal pedestal. Her grandfather’s teachings of morality and virtue are inscribed on the pedestal.
“I’m very busy,” says Lily, the youngest of Sun Yat-sen’s six grandchildren. “I have given lectures of grandfather’s teachings I think almost a thousand times. This month and last month I went to California twice to give lectures. On Nov. 11, after we rededicate grandfather’s bronze statue, right away Charles and I have to rush to the airport to go to New York. (Chinese community leaders in) New York invited me to give two lectures, one on Nov. 12. I’m always that busy, but I have to slow down because I’m 71.”
An injury has slowed down the Ala Moana resident a bit. “I’m a very good calligrapher,” she explains, “I specialize in writing some of grandfather’s famous teachings, but last year I fell down and broke my wrist.” The injury also has made it difficult for Lily to keep up with her piano playing.
Meanwhile, the devout Buddhist practices meditation and continues to propagate her grandfather’s message.
“My grandfather established the first republic country in Asia,” states Lily. “He is the Chinese nation’s pride and dignity. He’s a national hero.”
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