Speech by Dr. Neil Yorkston at Liberation Banquet, Weifang, 17 August 1995
Respected Mr. Li Huixin, Vice-Chairman of Weifang People's Congress, Madam Wang Xioujuan, Vice-Mayor of Weifang People's Government, Ladies and Gentlemen and Friends, may I echo the thanks of my friend, Theo Bazire, for your generous hospitality in inviting us to this Liberation Banquet.
What an amazing banquet! We are very grateful to our hosts and to all those who planned and served the excellent food prepared by the chefs.
By contrast, this banquet reminds me of the first meal we had here in camp. The internees who staffed the kitchen had a sense of humour. Chalked on the blackboard was the menu, as though it was an item from a French restaurant: "Consommé Royale" - Royal Soup. The food at Kitchen 1 was shared among 1,200 people, and the full menu read, "Consommé Royale - with 47 eggs". (That meant one egg for every 24 people). The dish itself looked like greasy water with some white flakes floating in it.
Your Liberation Banquet, I need hardly say, is quite unlike anything we have eaten before in Weifang. This Liberation Banquet, of course, reminds us of the years when we were not free. We were captives. I do not wish to bore you with details of being a prisoner. I refer to internment only because it is the contrast with captivity that makes freedom so thrilling.
Liberation Day has played a large part, if I may say so, in my own life. I shall never forget the exhilaration of running out of the front gate on August 17, 1945.
Liberation Day helps me to understand history. Liberation Day helps me to have a sense of other people's experience of slavery and freedom. Liberation Day helps me to understand war and peace.
Liberation Day helps me to understand people I read about in history. Confucius said:
"When you see a worthy person, endeavour to emulate him.
When you see an unworthy person, then examine your inner self".
Liberation Day helps me in medical practice. My work is to study people in the bondage of mental illness and to find ways to set them free.
Liberation Day helps me in medical education. Every day I face the bondage of ignorance. Liberation Day encourages me to look for knowledge and truth. Every day, in the care of people with mental illness, I meet the bondage of prejudice. Thoughts of liberation encourage me to look for ways to bring truth to release people from prejudice.
Ladies and gentlemen, on this anniversary of Liberation Day, may I propose a toast: to freedom!