In celebration of our freedom

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 1997, 12:00am

Monday sees the first formal commemoration of Sino-Japan Victory Day in Hong Kong. It replaces the former Liberation Day instigated by the British to mark the freeing of Hong Kong from Japan.

Jack Edwards OBE, 79, is a tireless campaigner for the rights and well-being of World War II veterans and their widows. A former prisoner of war and chairman of the Hong Kong and China branch of the Royal British Legion, his services were recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list.

What's on your mind? Remembering those who made the victory possible, and remembering that many of them are still dying and suffering because of the sacrifice they made and, of course, getting old, which doesn't help.

What will be different for you this year? The main difference will be that there will be no service at the Cenotaph. In 1995 it was the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, VJ Day, and the Government held a big ceremony at the Cenotaph. In 1996 the service also took place at the Cenotaph because it was the last Liberation Day. This year it's back to City Hall.

How will the change affect you? I don't think there will be any big changes. It doesn't matter to me what you call the day. We're still celebrating our freedom, whatever the date.

How important is it to look back? The main thing is to remember the people who made the victory possible: men and women of all races. It's not a gweilo thing, I've had many many calls and letters from Chinese people concerned about the change. In fact, I've got a letter from a Chinese gentleman whose grandfather served in the war. He wants to come on Monday and wear his medals.

What are your hopes for the future? I want to see flags flying at the Cenotaph again. I want to see the PLA raising and lowering the flags every day. I also want to see Remembrance Day in November properly marked. All the proceeds from Poppy Day go to Chinese veterans. We help about 45 a month. I'm waiting for news on both of these things at the moment.