Nell Calloway, granddaughter of Claire Lee Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers, said she hopes to take the sincerity and goodwill of the American people to China, and share more wonderful stories with the Chinese people during a recent interview with People’s Daily.
Calloway came to China for the 14th time for a visit with a delegation from the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation. The delegation included both Flying Tigers veterans and their descendants, who aimed to reminisce about the old days of the Flying Tigers in China, carry forward the spirit of the Flying Tigers, and pass on the friendship between the two peoples from generation to generation.
Over the years, Calloway has been actively promoting people-to-people friendship between the United States and China. She has established the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum and the Chennault Aviation Academy.
Her efforts started in 2002 when she made her first trip to China together with her mother.
Calloway recalled that her grandfather came to China when her mother was only nine years old. Her mother could not understand why he stayed in China for 7 years until their first visit to China, where they learned about the events that took place during the war era.
Since then, Calloway and her mother have been dedicated to promoting Flying Tigers’ tales and the history of China’s resistance war against Japanese aggression to the American public.
She believed that it’s crucial to share with the world how Chinese people admirably overcame difficulties and fought against Japanese invaders, and said she has always taken it as her mission.
During the resistance war against Japanese aggression, General Claire Lee Chennault led the Flying Tigers to fight alongside the Chinese people.
“We must remember the history,” Calloway has mentioned multiple times in interviews, saying Flying Tigers veterans and their descendants have the responsibility to carry on this precious friendship, to help and assist each other, and to create a better future for future generations.
During her visit to China this time, Calloway always took photos with General Claire Lee Chennault’s pictures at each site.
She said these photos touched her deeply because they signify that many Chinese people still remember the contributions her grandfather had made.
“Over the years, I have witnessed the development and changes in China. It would be wonderful if my grandfather could see today’s China,” Calloway told People’s Daily.
Calloway believes that history needs to be recorded and told, and common memories must be passed on by those who have lived through it.
She said the Flying Tigers veterans she interviewed had great admiration for the Chinese people and were proud that they had fought alongside them against the Japanese invaders.
“Both the United States and China need to understand this shared history,” Calloway noted. As one of the descendants of the Flying Tigers veterans, she said they have a greater responsibility to speak up and continue telling the story of the Flying Tigers.
Coming to China again after four years, Calloway placed particular importance on the power of face-to-face exchanges, believing it to be crucial for promoting people-to-people friendship between the two countries.
She said the two peoples need to engage in more exchanges in order to enhance mutual understanding. When the two peoples are separated by oceans, it is difficult to have a tangible sense of connection; when they come to each other’s land and make eye contact, everything falls into place naturally, she explained.
Calloway expressed her hope that the two peoples, especially the younger generation, can continue to inherit the spirit of the Flying Tigers.
“The U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and is highly regarded by the international community. We should set an example for the world, set aside our differences, extend the hand of friendship, and work towards our common goals,” she said.