Long hike serves as homage to martyrs in Ningxia

By HU DONGMEI in Yinchuan and ZHOU HUIYING | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-04-05 07:47
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Middle school students from the Ningxia Hui autonomous region hike to Renshanhe Martyrs Cemetery in Pengyang county to pay tribute to fallen soldiers on Saturday. NIU ZHANHONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Over 3,200 students and teachers from two high schools in Guyuan city, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, spent 16 hours on Saturday hiking to honor the memory of the nation's revolutionary martyrs ahead of Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, which falls on Wednesday this year.

Setting off at 4:30 am on Saturday, the group hiked 27 kilometers to get to the Renshanhe Martyrs Cemetery in the city's Pengyang county.

"It was still dark for the first half of the journey. It was a little difficult walking along the rugged mountain roads, especially as we hiked higher," said Zhang Yuxin, who was one of 900 people participating from No 2 Senior High School. "However, we encouraged each other, and none of us gave up. When the girls had trouble climbing up the steep hills, the boys pulled us with their trekking poles."

Though his feet began to hurt as he hiked, Wang Kaixin, a freshman at Hongwen Middle School, from which 2,300 people were participating, refused an offer for a ride from a parent volunteer who invited him to his car.

"I felt like if I couldn't walk to the cemetery on my own this time, I might recoil from difficulties I encounter in the future, so I had to keep going," he said.

During the whole trip, the students held up red flags and sang revolutionary songs loudly, which invigorated the group.

The team finally arrived at the cemetery at around 11 am. The students then swept the burial plots, paid their respects and offered wreaths to honor the memory of the martyrs buried there.

The Battle of Renshanhe is known as the "first battle to liberate Ningxia" during the War of Liberation (1946-49). Seventy-four years ago, 391 martyrs braved rain, snow and hail as they fought and ultimately lost their lives at Renshanhe.

After the memorial ceremony, the students returned to Guyuan on foot.

To ensure the safety of the participants, the two schools prepared well in advance of the hike.

"We began special physical training for the students and teachers a month ago. During the morning exercise and physical education classes, they underwent various forms of training, such as weight-bearing running, which greatly improved their physical strength and endurance," said Li Junxian, a physical education teacher at the Hongwen school. "It was really a huge challenge for the students to complete the 54-kilometer trip, but I had confidence that they could do it."

An emergency support team consisting of members of the Blue Sky Rescue Team, police officers and medical workers followed the hikers.

The trek for the martyrs was nothing new for the participating schools.

"In fact, we have been doing this every year since 1995," said Mian Youlu, deputy Party secretary of No 2 Middle School. "It was the seventh time that I lead the team.

"I believe that practical experience is the best education. I hope the students can remember the martyrs as well as strengthen their bodies and minds by doing this activity."

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