In the heart of Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square, a solemn ceremony unfolded on September 30th, marking China’s 10th Martyrs’ Day. This day has grown in significance, symbolizing the spirit of sacrifice and reverence for those who laid down their lives for the nation’s cause.
Leading the ceremony was Chinese President Xi Jinping, joined by other top brass of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and state officials. Together, at 10 am, they sang the national anthem, paying silent respect to the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the liberation and establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
This annual gathering is a melting pot of people from different backgrounds. Veterans, retired officials, relatives of the martyrs, and members of the Chinese Young Pioneers came forward, presenting flower baskets and bouquets to the fallen heroes. The sheer diversity of the attendees highlights the nationwide respect for the martyrs.
Prominently displayed in front of the Monument to the People’s Heroes was a colossal flower basket, emblazoned with the words, “Bless the Motherland.” This presentation gains added significance as the 74th National Day of China approaches.
Beyond the ceremonious proceedings, Xi Jinping, who also holds the position of general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, emphasized the need for younger generations to remember and emulate the sacrifices of their forebears. In a letter addressed to the children of martyrs currently enrolled at the People’s Public Security University of China, President Xi urged them to take inspiration from the heroism of their parents’ generation. He envisioned them as the steadfast protectors of the Party and its people.
The letter, released shortly before the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day, carried President Xi’s aspirations for these students. He extended heartfelt greetings to the families of martyrs from the public security domain, acknowledging the gravity of their sacrifices.
In the intricate weave of his words, President Xi accentuated the sanctity of the people’s police role in ensuring national security, social stability, and general well-being. He advised the students to remain unwavering in their ideals, urging them to excel academically, refine their skills, and remain committed as the party’s loyal guardians. Furthermore, he emphasized their role in crafting a harmonious China and significantly contributing to the overarching mission of national rejuvenation.
The gravitas of this sentiment becomes evident when reflecting upon the history of the People’s Republic of China, established in 1949. Over its existence, more than 17,000 police officers have made the ultimate sacrifice. Of these brave souls, over 3,700 have been posthumously honored as martyrs.
In 2014, recognizing the profound sacrifices, China’s top legislature endorsed September 30 as Martyrs’ Day. The intent was clear: to honor and remember those who gave up their lives for the nation’s independence and its burgeoning prosperity.
Across the vast expanse of China, this reverence is palpable. Cities big and small have hosted an array of memorial activities, with many residents spontaneously visiting war memorial museums to lay flowers and express their tributes.
The week leading up to Martyrs’ Day witnessed a surge of respect and remembrance. Soldiers, civilians, school students, all flocked to major memorials nationwide to honor the heroes. Military commands and police units galvanized their ranks, engaging them in memorial activities, reinforcing the ethos of heroism for contemporary times.
A poignant moment was captured on September 25, when officers and soldiers from a border defense regiment in Xinjiang visited the Martyrs’ Cemetery in Kangxiwa, post a fresh snowfall. Located at an altitude of 4280 meters on the Karakoram Plateau, the setting underscored the serene yet powerful homage paid to the fallen heroes.
Ahead of Martyrs’ Day, memorial sites in various locations like Sichuan’s Suining, Guang’an, Panzhihua, and Aba underwent renovations, welcoming the public with renewed grandeur.
A special mention is warranted for the Binjiang Village Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Liaoning Province. Funded and built by local villagers, it stands as the sole cemetery of its kind. Of the 33 martyrs interred here, only five are named, a testament to countless unsung heroes. History reveals that the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army congregated near Binjiang village over 70 years ago, with many of its wounded members, upon their return, being laid to rest in this sacred ground.
It’s crucial to note that the spirit of remembrance isn’t limited to China’s borders. Places like the Cemetery for Martyrs of the CPV in North Korea and the “China Yadgar” in Pakistan, where Chinese engineers and workers sacrificed their lives during the construction of the Karakoram Highway, are frequently visited. They stand as symbols of China’s broader contributions to world peace.
In essence, Martyrs’ Day and the ceremonies surrounding it not only commemorate the sacrifices of countless