War heroes should never be insulted
An online debate on war heroes has divided Chinese netizens. A recent post on SinaWeibo, a Twitter-like social network tool, mocked Qiu Shaoyun, a Chinese soldier who died in a fire during theWar to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-1953), as “roast meat”. And some even said the story aboutHuang Jiguang taking a hail of bullets to protect his fellow soldiers is “false”.
The spread of such slander on the Internet shows some people have little respect for the dead; worse, they defame heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country.
The tradition of respecting war heroes has a spiritual basis; it is equally important for a rising China and its people. Wars may not be something to be proud of, the world today is basically in peace compared with the past, but that doesn’t mean the efforts and sacrifices of war heroes in the service of the country are any less important.
A country can make newheroes only if it pays tribute to the ones in the past. The Du Fengrui air force brigade, named after a pilot who sacrificed his life in 1958, has been holding oath-taking ceremonies before his statue for the past four decades or more.
Inspired by this tradition, a number of the brigade’s members have become outstanding role models for others, such as NieHaisheng, crewcommander of the landmark Shenzhou X manned space mission in 2013, which at that time was the longest of its kind in China.
In a country full of heroes, showing unconditional respect to them is the least one can do. China has been doing exactly that as governments at all levels are making more efforts to commemorate martyrs— from collecting their remains and renovating their tombs to raising their pensions. Also, war heroes’ children taking the college entrance exam have lower criteria— lower than usual scores, for example— to get into universities.
China is not the only country that honors its wartime heroes. Many streets in Russia are named after itsWorldWar II heroes, and many newly weds still choose to lay a wreath on martyrs’ tombs. Without the sacrifice of more than 20 million people, the Soviet Union would not have won the Great PatrioticWar against Nazi Germany and its allies.
The United States, on its part, has two servicemenrelated holidays— Memorial Day at the end ofMay to honor the Americans who lost their lives in wars and Veterans Day onNov 11. From the US federal government to local communities, many organize commemorative events on these two holidays.
In short, war heroes will keep inspiring people from all walks of life and their memory should never be insulted. The author is a professor at the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army.