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June 27, 2017

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Citizens of a nation rejoice after 101 years

By Ann Yu--Taiwan yesterday celebrated its 101st birthday with a ceremony that included a series of performances on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building.

The ceremony began with a 15-minute military drill by the Republic of China Armed Forces Honor Guard and Joint Military Marching Band. In synchronized steps, the military force, consisting of 500 troops, marched onto the boulevard. The honor guard put on a routine of flipping and spinning their rifles that was well received by the crowd. It ended with the troop forming the figure "101."

Celebrity Ming Dao (明道), who is enlisted in the Army, also took part in the honor guard performance. Ming later talked to reporters about his performance, saying: "I feel so honored to be included in this exhibition drill with fellow brothers. Its been terribly hard work, with lots of sweat, blood, sprains and cuts.

"In the end, it was all for the sake of glory," he added.

Another highlight was the National Anthem led by The Taoshan Elementary School Choir. Dressed in indigenous Atayal clothing, 100 students from the school, which is located in Taoshan Village of Hsinchu County, led the whole crowd in a recital of the National Anthem.

The signing continued with the a cappella group Semiscon Vocal Band (神秘失控人聲樂團). The band performed a medley of English, Mandarin and Taiwanese classic pop songs, including the hit tune "My Future is Not a Dream" by deceased song-writer Chang Yu-sheng (張雨生).

In a first for the National Airborne Service Corps under the Ministry of the Interior, five helicopters, hanging a flag and a banner that read "Happy Birthday" in Mandarin, flew over the presidential office.

In efforts to promote healthier lifestyles as well as traditional culture, students were a main part of this year's performance, displaying both traditional folklore dance and routine exercises.

'Missing something'

Unlike last year's National Day performance that celebrated the country's 100th birthday, commentators said this year's event was less elaborate. Spectators commented that more emphasis was placed on student performances, and less on the military compared to previous years.

"It's a pity that the usual routine of motorcycles ... was eliminated this year. It is usually the peak of the whole celebration and many people travel a long way just to see this," Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said.

"Hopefully, it will resume next year."

Lin was referring to a parade of 56 motorcycles, required to travel at only 5 kph, that lead a troop of soldiers and a marching band. This did not occur this year.

The budget for this year's National Day celebrations was NT$28.2 million, which is NT$3.57 million less than last year's centennial. Attendance was estimated to be lower than in 2011 according to people who attended both years.

Spectators Still Enthusiastic

Some spectators displayed their national pride arriving at the event as early as 7 a.m. Inclement weather did not dampen the audience's enthusiasm as they waved their flags and applauded.

Overseas compatriots were also eager to participate in this year's celebration, lining up outside the boulevard early in the morning so as to find a place to sit. Reportedly around 6,000 compatriots flew into Taiwan to celebrate this year's 101st birthday.

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