By Lin Congyi
The commemoration of and praise for the martyrs highlights the lofty character of martyrs and also reflects the spirit of a nation and its people. Today is the 9th National Martyr’s Day of China, a day that martyrs are to be cherished.
According to rough statistics, since 1840, there have been 20 million martyrs in China, who sacrificed their lives for the national independence and emancipation and the prosperity of the country and happiness of the people. For this reason, they are addressed as the “dearest people” by the Chinese people. Setting up a national day and organizing memorial activities nationwide is how China respects its martyrs.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Part of China, Present Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has expressed his admiration and respect for the martyrs on many occasions. “For all those who gave their precious lives for the country, the nation and peace, no matter how the times change, we should always remember their sacrifice and dedication,” Present Xi said in his 2015 New Year address.
In recent years, China has released series of laws, regulations and supportive policies regarding the commemoration of martyrs. And the whole society has formed a thicker atmosphere of respecting, remembering, learning heroes and martyrs and defending their honor and reputations.
Making national planning for construction of memorial facilities for martyrs
People use their cell phones to sweep the QR code so as to get the information of the martyrs, including name, gender, and life stories at a martyr’s cemetery in Xinluo district, Longyan city, Fujian province on March 15, 2022.
The bureau of veteran affairs of Xinluo district, Longyan city in Fujian province set up a QR code wall at the martyr’s cemetery in March, 2022. Each code on the wall links to the information of a martyr and provides a guide to the location of the martyr’s tomb. People who come to pay their respects to the martyrs could learn about the personal information and life stories of the martyrs by sweeping the QR codes.
Such design is not a self-driven innovation came up by the bureau of veteran affairs of Xinluo district, but a part of a national planning for the management of memorial facilities for martyrs around the country.
In September, 2019, an overall working program for the planning, building, maintenance and management of memorial facilities for martyrs was officially released. As the guideline for the work in this aspect, the document requires relevant departments to do a better job in planning, building and managing the memorial facilities for martyrs.
The Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Veterans Affairs jointly launched the national renovation project of memorial facilities for heroes and martyrs below the county level in September 2021, for the purpose of carrying out intensive renovations on memorial facilities for heroes and martyrs at and below the county level, fundamentally improving the overall appearance of these facilities, and greatly enhancing the educational function of these facilities.
Shandong province is the final resting place of 307,000 martyrs and has 123,000 memorial facilities. From September 2021 to June this year, Shandong carried out renovation projects for martyrs' memorial facilities below the county level, renovating a total of 26,663 martyrs' memorial facilities. Among them, 4,813 scattered graves of martyrs have been moved into the martyrs’ cemeteries or centralized management and protection sites, a total of 20, 885 memorial facilities are under on-site protection, and 926 martyrs' memorial facilities such as cemeteries, monuments and pavilions have been repaired.
Since the national renovation project of memorial facilities for heroes and martyrs below the county level was carried out in September 2021, Ningbo city of Zhejiang province has completed the relocation and renovation of memorial facilities for heroes and martyrs below the county level with 285 martyrs' memorial facilities renovated and 198 scattered martyrs' tombs relocated. In Zhuzhou city, Hunan province, 2,658 scattered martyrs' tombs have been relocated, and more than 1,000 have been repaired. A total of 3,774 martyrs' memorial facilities have taken on a new look in Zhuzhou.
Bringing the martyrs buried abroad back home
Though 70 years have passed, the country and the people have never forgotten the martyrs who died bravely in the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea. Over 197,000 Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) soldiers laid down their precious lives for the motherland, the people and peace.
In 2013, in the spirit of friendly consultation and practical cooperation, China and South Korea (ROK) reached an agreement to return the remains of CPV martyrs in South Korea to China.
On March 28, 2014, the first batch of 437 CPV martyrs’ remains returned to China from South Korea. When the special aircraft carrying the remains of the martyrs entered China’s territorial airspace, two J-11B fighter jets dispatched by the PLA Air Force were there to provide escort.
From 2014 to 2022, China and ROK have made the handover of the remains of CPV martyrs an annual work. China has taken remains of 913 CPV martyrs back home in 9 consecutive years.
On September 16, the remains of 88 CPV martyrs were returned to China. The Y-2 large transport aircraft carrying the remains and belongings of the 88 fallen CPV soldiers was escorted by two J-20 stealth fighter jets in China’s territorial airspace. Using "20 series" military aircraft to bring the martyrs home is China’s way of respecting and honoring them.
On the other hand, a 72-hour themed activity named “The heroes return when the motherland is prosperous—welcome the return of the 9th batch of the remains of CPV martyrs” was broadcast live on the Internet by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. Lasting from 12:00 pm, Sept. 14 to 12:00 pm, Sept. 17, the themed live streaming was watched by over 100 million people, who expressed their heartfelt respect and sentiment of missing for the CPV martyrs by writing comments, sending virtual flowers online and other means.
A burial ceremony for the remains of 88 Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) martyrs is held at the CPV martyrs' cemetery in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province, Sept. 17, 2022.
DNA technology and simulated portraits help martyrs to regain identification and image
On April 16, 2020, the unveiling ceremony of the Protection Center for Memorial Facility of Martyrs (the Martyrs Remains Search and Identification Center of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs) and the Veterans Information Center was held in Beijing, marking the beginning of new breakthroughs in the search and identification of martyrs' remains.
On January 28, 2021, the Jinan Municipal Bureau of Veterans Affairs initiated the DNA sampling on unknown martyrs and successfully collected 705 effective samples, with the aim to find the relatives of these martyrs. This is the first time that China applies DNA technology in such a large scale for this purpose.
By April 1, 2022, after completing comparison of nearly 100 pieces of DNA information, 45 unknown martyrs have regained identification and their relatives have been found.
As DNA technology plays a significant role in the identification of the remains of martyrs, the National Team for Martyrs’ Remains Searching and the National Laboratory for DNA Identification of the Remains of Martyrs were established in Beijing, on July 20, 2022, which marks that China has made a new progress in the construction of martyrs’ remains searching and identifying system.
While the DNA technology helps unknown martyrs to regain names, simulated portraits bring back the faces of the martyrs.
After retirement, Lin Yuhui, the former first-grade police supervisor with the Material Evidence Identification Center under the Shandong Provincial Public Security Department, painted in 5 years simulated portraits for over 150 martyrs by giving full play to his special talent of painting simulated portrait, Thanks to his effort, the relatives of the martyrs were able to “reunite” with their loved ones again.
Now, many cities, including Hangzhou, Qingdao, and Tai’an, have launched such activity to paint the simulated portraits for martyrs. Moreover, students and teachers of the fine arts department from colleges and universities including the Anhui Normal University and Shandong Vocational Institute of Fashion Technology also joined as volunteers.
Lin Yuhui, retired first-grade police supervisor of the Material Evidence Identification Center under the Shandong Provincial Public Security Department, stands in front of the unknown martyrs’ simulated portraits painted by him.
China and Chinese people have proved with warm actions that martyrs of the country will always be remembered, no matter how many years have passed or where the martyrs rest!