The country's top leaders observed its 59th National Day by paying respects in Beijing yesterday to those who had sacrificed themselves to the founding of New China.
Led by President Hu Jintao, the leaders presented flowers before the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tian'anmen Square, with 18 soldiers lifting the flower baskets to the base of the monument.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, pay respect at the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 1, 2008. [Xinhua]
"The wreath-laying ceremony is a great way to honor the Chinese people's indomitable spirit of struggle and self-sacrifice in the face of great challenges and difficulties," said Gao Xinmin, a professor with the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
"Without such spirit, Chinese people wouldn't be able to make such remarkable progress and achievement," Gao said.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, as well as a series of significant events that include the hosting of a successful Beijing Olympics, the Shenzhou VII space mission and several natural disasters that have made this year's National Day particularly moving and inspiring, she added.
A record high of 190,000 people from different walks of life across the country attended yesterday's national flag-raising ceremony at Tian'anmen.
Most of the visitors who crowded the square from midnight were college freshmen, who wanted to watch the ceremony as near as they could.
When the national flag reached the top of its mast, 10,000 pigeons signaling good wishes were released into the air from both sides of the Jinshui Bridge, south of the Tian'anmen Rostrum.
"Happy birthday to China," shouted a group of students from the Beijing Science, Technology and Management College.
"Tears started to trickle down my face when I heard the national anthem," said Wang Hai, a migrant worker from earthquake-hit Sichuan province. "When my hometown was struck by a powerful quake in May, people from other parts of the country stood by us and aid poured in."
Chang Aoxue, from rural Shanxi province, also joined the crowd, watching the flag-raising with her 2-year-old daughter.
"I came here together with my daughter to show my gratitude to the Party for encouraging the implementation of a policy that encourages the prosperity of the people, and to offer good wishes to the motherland," Chang said.
In Nanjing, the provincial capital of Jiangsu, more than 800 people took part in a ceremony held inside the Yuhuatai Martyrs Cemetery yesterday.
Apart from placing wreaths of fresh flowers at the monument for martyrs, participants also encircled the structure and observed one minute of silence as a mark of respect.
In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, more than 1,000 people attended a memorial service and a flag-raising ceremony at the Guangzhou Huanghuagang Martyr Cemetery park.
Similarly, a ceremony in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet autonomous region, began at 10 am yesterday at the square near the iconic Potala Palace.