By Tao Jun, Thanh Xuan
HANOI, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- In front of a monument with the inscription in red paint "Chinese martyrs are immortal," a group of around 40 people bowed their heads in silence here on Sunday.
Dressed in black and white, the representatives from the Chinese Embassy to Vietnam, Chinese enterprises, students and media, led by Yin Haihong, Charge d'Affaires of the Chinese embassy, and accompanied by local officials, stepped upward in sequence to offer incenses in a memorial ceremony to mark the Chinese Martyrs' Day which falls on Sept. 30.
Here in the cemetery in Gia Lam district, some 15 km from the downtown of Hanoi, rest in peace 49 Chinese martyrs, who were military advisors, members of a logistic detachment and bridge engineers that helped Vietnam during its war against foreign invaders.
They were among over 1,400 Chinese martyrs laid to rest in 40 cemeteries in 22 provinces across northern and central Vietnam, according to the embassy.
Some 60 years ago, more than 320,000 Chinese were sent to help Vietnam defend its independence and territory upon the request of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people.
In the shade of mango and litchi trees, the 49 graves staying in rows are all built with black granite.
"We are extremely grateful for the sacrifice of Chinese martyrs who devoted their lives to Vietnam's independence and the precious friendship between the two countries," Tran Thi Phuong, 42, vice chairwoman of the Hanoi Union of Friendship Organizations told Xinhua on Sunday.
Phuong noted that local authorities conduct regular upgrade every three to four months and large-scale upgrade every three to four years to ensure the cemetery is always in good condition.
"Worshipping the graves is one way to show our respect to the heroes who gave us a helping hand during the country's darkest time," she said.
Nguyen Xuan Canh, 55, a Vietnamese veteran who has served as a custodian at the cemetery for over eight years, told Xinhua that working was meaningful to him.
Canh leads a group of 15 people, all in their 40s or more, starting a day at 7:30 a.m. with sweeping and weeding the graves. Some of them are responsible for securing the cemetery.
"We try to keep the cemetery as clean as possible, all year around," Canh said, with his eyes looking far beyond the graves, adding that he was happy as he could pay tribute to the Chinese comrades.
Besides Chinese delegations who usually visit the cemetery on occasions like Chinese Martyrs' Day and Qingming Festival, Vietnamese citizens usually come by, offering incenses and fresh flowers on the 1st and 15th day of a lunar month or on lunar holidays, Canh said.
"The current development of China-Vietnam relations has proved that blood of Chinese martyrs was not spilt in vain," Yin said.
Nowadays, the two countries actively support each other, constantly strengthen the traditional friendship and promote the stable development of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, she noted.