February 22, 2009

Veterans support each other for 50 years, arrange to be buried together

This article comes from the United Daily News. I cut it out of the newspaper when it appeared in October last year, and just now got around to translating it.

By Wu Mingliang

Veterans Yi Tiancheng, Fang Jitang and Ni Jin have supported each other for 50 years. Ni Jin, who has a family, took in his two single friends to live with him. The three made a pact to be buried together. Yi and Fang bequeathed their inheritance to Ni to be used for worship offerings in the future. Ni Jin exhorts his son, "When we have passed away, you should make offerings to Uncle Yi and Uncle Fang just as if they were your father."

In 2005, when Fang Jitang passed away, Yi Tiancheng and Ni Jin held his funeral. Tainan's Veterans Service Department refused to pass on the inheritance to Ni Jin because "the authenticity of the will could not be determined." Ni Jin then filed a civil suit. Tainan district court believed that the will was written clearly; it clearly stated that the inheritance should be handled by Ni Jin. The court ruled that the Veterans Service Department should turn over the the inheritance of over NT$660,000 to Ni Jin.

Photo of Ni Jin by reporter Wu Mingliang

"In our decades serving as soldiers, we stressed feelings and brotherhood," says 78-year-old Ni Jin. Yi Tiancheng is 13 years older than him and Fang Jitang was six years older. "They are both my elder brothers," he says. In his early years as a soldier, pay was meager and he had four children to support. His two brothers would often give him two or three thousand dollars to support him. "Since they were young, my children were brought up by them, just like their own children."

Ni Jin is from Jiangsu. In 1945, he came to Taiwan with the military and entered the 93rd division, in the same unit as Yi Tiancheng, who is from Sichuan, and Fang Jitang, from Zhejiang. The three looked after one another and became fast friends. In 1966 Ni Jin transferred into the Garrison Command's coast guard. He was allotted residence in the Jingzhong Sancun residential area for military families. He treated Yi and Fang like his own family; when they were on leave they would come and stay.

In 1979, Yi and Fang retired from service, one after the other. In the empty space next to his residence, Ji Jin built a house to accommodate his two friends and allow them to live together. "Whatever my family eats, they eat the same thing," he says. A few years earlier, because his son married and had children, Ni Jin moved to a house on Zhonghua South Rd. in Tainan. Yi Tiancheng worried that it would be too crowded for them, so he stayed at the apartment in Jingzhong Sancun. Ni Jin went to visit and chat with his friends every day.

"We were born on different days and will die at different times, but we'll be buried together," said Ni Jin. The three men bought spaces at the ossuary of Tiandu Chan Temple in Tainan. They arranged to be together every day, even after they pass on.

Since Fang Jitang passed away, Ni Jin takes his children to the Tiandu Chan Temple to worship on the anniversary of Fang's death, on Tomb Sweeping day, and during the lunar new year. Ni Jin humorously notes that when you pass away, most people's descendants only come to worship on the anniversary of death, Tomb Sweeping Day, and the lunar new year, but for the three friends, they will have three different death anniversary days, so their sons will have to make two more trips each year. "Each year, we'll have two more meals than other people. Isn't that good?"

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  • Its really good to read this article.Good and amazing friendships !! I wish their sons should also have the same friendship as their dads.I too have 2 good friends and after i read this blog I wish the end to happen as these friends.Lets hope?!

    By Anonymous Tina, at February 23, 2009 5:32 PM  

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, Tina. I'm glad to know that you enjoyed the article.

    By Blogger Taiwanonymous, at February 24, 2009 11:19 AM  

  • I'm glad that the terms of a "clearly written will" were actually acted upon! A friendship such as these men shared is a rare thing indeed, but I think I'm lucky enough to have just as good a friend in you.

    By Blogger Brett Hurst, at June 10, 2009 11:14 AM  

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