VeteransVeterans honoredhonored forfor heroismheroism inin war
Xi says the Chinese people will never forget the efforts of foreign soldiers who fought for the country
China honored 30 veterans onWednesday for their contributions to the country’s victory against Japanese aggression.
The ceremony at the Great Hall of the People took place a day before the victory parade in Tian’anmen Square marking the 70th anniversary of the end ofWorldWar II.
Receiving a salute from an honor guard, President Xi Jinping approached the veterans and awarded them commemorative medals. Many of them are aged about 100 and use wheelchairs, but some of them stood and saluted.
Ten of the medals were awarded to foreign veterans or relatives of foreign soldiers who died fighting for China duringWorldWar II.
After awarding the medals, Xi said that many heroes emerged during the 14 years of resistance against Japanese aggression, including fighters from overseas countries such as Canada and India.
“A promising nation cannot go without heroes or pioneers. The Chinese people will never forget the foreign soldiers who fought for China duringWorld War II, and the 10 foreign veterans present today are their representatives,” he said.
TongRongfang, 90, fromBeijing said itwasthe happiestday of his life after he received his gold-gilt medal embossed with a design featuring the Yangtze River and an olive branch.
Tong’s father, Tong Linge, was a senior general in the Kuomintang who fought during the Lugouqiao Incident, or the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
This conflict, which broke out in a Beijing suburb in July 1937, led to full-scale war between China and Japan. Tong was the first senior generalwhodied afterChina mounted all-out resistance against the Japanese aggression.
The younger Tong said: “My father’s contribution has been officially recognized. I’m glad the leaders have attached unprecedented significance to the issue.”
Makhmut Gareev, a veteran of the SovietArmy, whofought against the Japanese with Chinese soldiers inNortheastChina, said China was the main Eastern battlefield during the World Anti-Fascist War, and its people fought hard and heroically, playing a significant role in the victory.
“Local Chinese showed us such great hospitality, and I will never forget the scene as we were leaving when they waited to see us off.”
Shi Baodong, 90, from Jiangsu province, whofought for five years during the conflict, described the ceremony as “touching and unforgettable”. He felt his contribution had been recognized.
The medals ceremony was the first event in the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the ChinesePeople’sWar of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) and the World Anti-FascistWar.
Xi, along with more than 30 foreign leaders, will attend the V-Day parade in Tian’anmen Square on Thursday morning.