Veteran revisits battlefields, relives memories of war

Updated: 2016-09-23 10:53


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Veteran revisits battlefields, relives memories of war

Zhu Wenbin and his grandson, Zhu Zhe, visit a museum in memory of the Chinese war of liberation in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. [Photo/China Daily]

The son of a former soldier plans to write a book about his father's experiences

Age 87, veteran soldier Zhu Wenbin felt it was a matter of urgency that he revisited the battlefields where he fought for New China.

He and three of his comrades-in-arms, who were living in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, promised to revisit the battlefields together several years ago. "Unfortunately, two of them have passed away and the other is bedridden," Zhu said. "So I feel it's time to make the trip and honor those friends who sacrificed their lives for the country."

Zhu joined the People's Liberation Army when he was 17-years-old. "Time flies. My grandson has grown up now, many things have changed, but the memories of my experiences in the army have never changed," Zhu said.

Zhu Zhe, 24, his grandson, posted about his grandfather's wishes to see the battlefields on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform, and it caught the attention of many young netizens.

"As the only grandson in the family, I want to help my grandpa to realize his dream," he said.

In mid-July, Zhu Wenbin, his wife, son and grandson, started a 17-day, 3,500-km car journey from Zhengzhou to Zhu Wenbin's hometown in Shanxi province, and then to revisit the battlefields in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. "I'd like to share my army stories with my grandson," Zhu Wenbin said.

They visited Baobuqi near Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, where one of the old soldier's best friends was killed in battle. Wang Shansan, who grew up with Zhu Wenbin and joined the army with him in 1947, was killed there in 1949, Zhu Wenbin told his family members.

It was the first day of the Lunar New Year in 1949. After a fierce battle, the last one in the Suiyuan area during China's civil war, a comrade told Zhu Wenbin that Wang had been killed while seizing guns from captured enemy soldiers.

"I was shocked to hear this news," Zhu said. "Wang failed to witness the victory of the battle-he hadn't even eaten his new-year dumplings yet."

Zhu Wenbin remembered the promise which he and Wang made before leaving their hometown in Shanxi. It was: No matter who died on the battlefield, the other person would try to bring his body home.

So Zhu Wenbin sent the message of Wang's death back home, asking his elder brother to help. "My older brother spent six days driving a cattle cart to bring Wang's body home from Inner Mongolia. Luckily, it was winter," he said.

"In Shanxi, the first thing my grandpa had to visit is the ruins of Wang's family home," Zhu Zhe said. They went to the local martyrs' memorial park and placed a bouquet in front of Wang's grave.

"My grandpa always told me that hard-won peace, tranquility and stability should be cherished. After the trip, I appreciate that much more than before," the grandson said.

Zhu Jianjun, 51, Zhu Wenbin' son, plans to write a book, collecting the stories of veteran soldiers such as his father.

"When I came to my grandpa's hometown, I felt that the sons of veterans were so excited to see each other, advocating the spirit of their fathers, and I want to write it down," he said, adding that he plans to call his book "I am a soldier".

Chen Liang contributed to this story.