A ceremony marking the 104th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement, was held at the Korean American Cultural Center of Michigan on Feb. 25. The ceremony was hosted by the Korean American Community of Metro Detroit. The event was divided into three main sessions: commemoration of the March 1 Movement, the President's Volunteer Service Award Ceremony, and a banquet dinner party. Samulnori (traditional Korean percussion) band called Woorisori launched the ceremony with its performance. Followed by the performance, participants pledged allegiance to the Korean flag and then solemnly meditated the spirit of the independence movement by paying silent tribute to fallen patriots in the movement for the sake of national independence. In her greetings, Kwon Jeong-hui, President of the Korean American Community of Metro Detroit, emphasized the meaning of the independence movement, representing the voice of 20 million overseas Koreans in the name of justice and humanity.
Woorisori, a traditional Korean percussion band composed of students, performs at the outset of the event commemorating the March 1 Independence Movement
In 1919 during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the time promoted the concept of "self-determination," meaning that a nation - a group of people with similar political ambitions - can seek to create its own independent government or state. Such concept had no doubt impacted the national independence movements in Korea. First of all, Korean students studying in Tokyo had gathered to publish the declaration of independence on Feb 8. Motivated by such declaration, 33 national representative figures had decided to proclaim the Korean Declaration of Independence at Tapgol Park in downtown Seoul at noon on Mar. 1. In fear of the gathering in the park could possibly turn into a violent demonstration, the national figures had instead convened at Taehwagwan restaurant in Seoul and had voluntarily noticed the Japanese police of an assembly. So the March 1 Independence Movement could have been wrapped up quietly after Han Yong-un, one of the leaders, had proclaimed the declaration and had given three cheers for the nation before getting arrested. However, students who had waited for the leaders at the park independently moved forward with the movement by proclaiming the declaration of independence. It was the students who had stood in the front line to promote the movement nationwide rather than being ended up briefly. Inheriting the historical heritage, the ceremony was highlighted by KACCM Student President Han Cho-rok and Student VP Kim Soo-yeon reciting the proclamation of the independence declaration in unison.
KACCM Student President Han Cho-rok and Student VP Kim Soo-yeon recites the proclamation of the declaration of independence
KACCM VP Park Seon-yeong, who delivered congratulatory remarks, offered encouraging words to young would-be leaders of the world to embrace the spirit of the March 1 independence movement and live to the fullest by pursing goals. Honorary Consul of Detroit David Roden said that the ceremony bolstered the awareness of human value and dignity, and in particular praised Korea for showing remarkable accomplishment in that sense. He added that Korea is no longer a country of the past being bullied by world powers and acknowledged that Korea has become a cultural and industrial powerhouse leading the 21st century. KACCM Director Kim Byeong-jun dressed in a similar clothing the national leaders had worn during the movement in the past, and stressed the unswerving spirit and will of a young activist Yu Gwan-sun who shouted for the national independence even in behind bars. Kim further emphasized that it was the fallen patriots who contributed in building modern Korea with their firm mindset that we cannot stand when we lose our country.
KACCM VP Park Seon-yeong delivers congratulatory remarks
Honorary Consul of Detroit David Roden offers congratulatory remarks
KACCM Director Kim Byeong-jun gives a congratulatory address
After local distinguished guests' congratulatory addresses, all participants stood up and gave loud three cheers holding a Korean flag in one hand and the other holding an American flag. Such ceremonial gesture has served students as a momentum to think what the March 1 Independence Movement means to our nation. The first session ended with the cheers and the singing a song in unison commemorating the independence movement.
Participants of the ceremony celebrates the March 1 Independence Movement by giving three cheers for the nation.
The ceremonial event is meaningful for young second-generation Korean Americans who don't get much chance to learn about Korean history.
Through the ceremony, young students said they have learned about the March 1 Independence Movement that has been worldly recognized as the peaceful nationwide movement.
The second main session of the event was a ceremony honoring the President's Volunteer Service Award recipients. A banquet dinner took place after recipients took ceremonial group photos. Hosted by the KACCM and sponsored by the Overseas Koreans Foundation and the Consulate General of Chicago, the event commemorating the March 1 Independence Movement was educationally meaningful. Because young second-generation Korean Americans who weren't able to learn much of Korean history could have a good grasp of a living wisdom through ancestors' behavior who audaciously raised their voices as a proud Korean citizen even under the Japanese colonial rule. The KACCM was able to complete the ceremony well thanks to helping hands from students who volunteered to cleaned up until the last minute.
Participants enjoys a banquet dinner after the ceremonial event
Student volunteers, who helped serve dinner, pose for a group photo