Be as Loyal as One Can Be and Serve One’s Own Country
Be as loyal as one can be and serve one’s own country. The term “be loyal and serve the country” first appeared in The History of Zhou of the Northern Dynasties and The History of the Northern Dynasties compiled during the early Tang. This phrase is also associated to the famous general in the war of resistance against the northern Jin invasion, Yue Fei (1103-1142) of the Southern Song Dynasty. In The History of the Song Dynasty, compiled during the Yuan Dynasty, there is a mention that Yue Fei had the four characters “jin zhong bao guo” (尽忠报国) tattooed on his back. However, it is not specified as to who tattooed them. Towards the early Qing period, there were talks that it was Yue Fei’s mother who tattooed them, and it is followed by the story of Yue Fei’s commitment and obeisance to his mother’s command to be loyal to his outmost and render service to his own country unto death. It has the connotation of Confucian ideals of loyalty and filial piety integrated into one, and to this day, it is used by the Chinese as a typical expression for patriotism.
You have always been highly placed and treated generously by the royal court, and hence you ought to be thinking ways to be the outmost loyal and render service to the country. Why is it then that you would consider giving away the highest power to others in just one day after you took hold of the power! (The History of Zhou of the Northern Dynasties)
Yue Fei exposed his back to show He Zhu the four characters “jin zhong bao guo” (尽忠报国 be as loyal as one can be and serve one’s own country) which had been tattooed deep into the skin. (The History of the Song Dynasty)