Chinese and other Asian communities across large U.S. and Canadian cities have paid homage to victims of the infamous Nanjing Massacre that shocked the world in its brutality when Japan invaded China 80 years ago.[Special coverage]
In New York City, home to the largest Chinese American population, people from a dozen Chinese associations gathered at a square in Manhattan's Chinatown on Wednesday to mourn the nearly 300,000 people brutally killed in the 1937 massacre.
"We gather together to remember hundreds of thousands of people who were killed 80 years ago in Nanjing," said Zheng Shigan, president of the United Fujianese of America Association, organizer of the event.
"We hope more people to know about this part of the history and to treasure the peace and stability we have today," he said at the event during which participants wore white flower and presented wreaths.
Zeng Xianqiu, general secretary of the association, said young people should also learn about the history so that such tragedy would never be repeated.
The event coincided with the 80th anniversary of the day when Nanjing fell to Japanese aggressors, who went on a six-week-long slaughter of civilians and surrendered soldiers who had put down their arms. About 300,000 Chinese were killed, and 20,000 women raped during the massacre.
On the U.S. west coast, representatives from the Chinese community and students of a Chinese-language school held a ceremony Tuesday night to mark the 80th anniversary at the WW2 Pacific War Memorial Hall in downtown San Francisco.
The participants observed one minute of silence in the candle-lit hall solemnly adorned with sombre black-and-white pictures of World War II victims.
They said the remembrance was held to honor the victims of the Nanjing Massacre and that they, as overseas Chinese, will never forget the hardships and sufferings inflicted upon the Chinese nation.
They expressed their sense of pride for seeing China constantly growing into a stronger state with a profound traditional Chinese culture.
Florence Fang, founder of the WW2 Pacific War Memorial Hall who presided over the ceremony, said the event that was held simultaneously with the national memorial activity back in China on the same day of Dec. 13, 2017 will arouse stronger patriotism among the overseas Chinese and let them unite more closely to remember history and safeguard peace.
On Sunday, hundreds of people from the Chinese, Korean and Philippine communities in San Francisco gathered to honor the 300,000 Chinese victims in the Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking in the Western world.
Jennifer Cheung, chairwoman of the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition and one of the organizers of Sunday's event, said that the memorial activity was staged to promote peace instead of harboring hatred towards the Japanese people.
In neighboring Canada, members of the Ontario provincial parliament held a moment of silence on Wednesday to recognize Ontario's first Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day in Toronto.
They said people must keep in mind the history of the Nanjing Massacre in order to educate the young generation and prevent the recurrence of such tragedies.
Hundreds of people also took part in a public candlelight vigil event in front of the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto.
With the passing a motion in October designating Dec. 13 annually as Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day, the parliament of Ontario, home to Canada's largest Asian community with more than 3 million of Asian descent, becomes the first regional legislature in Western countries to adopt the motion.
The province of Manitoba also joined a growing movement in Canada to recognize and commemorate the Nanjing Massacre, with a motion of this kind passing its second reading with unanimous consent in its legislature.
Also in Vancouver, hundreds of people gathered in a gymnasium in the Chinatown on Tuesday to remember the victims of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
The Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations and the Chinese Association of Greater Vancouver jointly hosted the event, which took place at the Vancouver Chinese Cultural Center.
Before the ceremony, visitors viewed photographs posted to the wall of the gym of atrocities committed by the Japanese aggressors against Chinese men, women and children.
China's newly instated Consul General to Vancouver Tong Xiaoling attended the event. She called the massacre one of the darkest days in human history.
"I feel so sad," she told Xinhua in an interview. "When I look at these pictures I feel so sorry for those ... men and women who were slaughtered by the Japanese invaders."