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Do not let memories of martyrs fade away

By Zhang Zhouxiang (China Daily) Updated: 2019-10-29 07:36

A CHINA CENTRAL TELEVISION PROGRAM broadcast on Sunday told the story of Yang Zirong, a People's Liberation Army hero, whose family was unaware that he had died a martyr until 27 years after his death in 1947. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

The novel Tracks in the Snow Forest tells how Yang outwitted a group of gangsters in northeastern China in 1946 before dying in a battle a few days later.

The novel was so popular from the 1950s to the 1980s that almost every person born in those decades has read it. However, many people did not know that the character in the novel was the true identity of the hero. Even his son did not know his father was the hero he read in the book until 27 years later, because he carried a name different from the one formally registered with the army.

The CCTV program sparked a hot discussion about martyrs on domestic social media networks.

Every nation pays respect to the martyrs and heroes who die for their country, because it is their sacrifices that make each nation's survival possible. It is common practice to pay tribute to the these fallen heroes so their deeds will be remembered.

Yet there are many who died without leaving any information for us to memorize, especially during the upheavals in the first half of the last century. According to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, about 20 million people died for the cause of national independence, but the names of only 1.93 million are known.

For decades, China has been collecting information about those who died during that period, so as to pay them the tribute they deserve. By doing so, it is hoped future generations will know the stories of these heroes, who they are, what they did and why, and how they died.

In a recent tragedy, three members of a PLA Air Force flying team, who had participated in the celebratory fly-by for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, died when the pilot deliberately flew their plane, which had developed technical problems, into a mountain on Oct 11 to avoid crashing into a village. It is to be hoped their names will be remembered and they too will be honored as martyrs. Everyone who gives his or her life for the public good should be remembered.

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