China’s military museum is holding a month-long exhibition to mark the 80th anniversary of the Long March. From 1934 to 1936, the Red Army marched across China to evade the Kuomintang’s pursuit.
When the Long March ended in 1936, Wang Tianbao was only 10 years-old. But he says he met some of China’s most historic figures during the Long March.
“I’m familiar with them because I was sending newspapers for the Red Army. Before I joined the revolution, I was struggling with poverty as a hired hand for a landlord. The Red Army changed my life,” said Wang Tiaobao, veteran soldier.
The newspaper boy officially became a soldier at the age of 14.
Wang trained as a pilot, and became a war hero after he downed a US fighter jet and crippled another three planes in the Korean War.
The Military Museum’s new exhibition displays over 200 photos and relics from the Long March. Wang says being here brings back memories of the revolution.
The Long March started in 1934, when millions of Kuomintang troops tried to hunt down less than 10,000 Communist forces.
The situation forced the Red Army into one of the longest retreats in war history.
Red Army soldiers walked over 12,000 kilometers, through snow-covered mountains and marshlands to escape the Kuomintang.
The Long March passes through some of China’s most difficult terrain. Many historians believe the Long March was more than just a military campaign... It was a defining moment for the Communist Party of China, and helped make the Party what it is today.
President Xi Jinping also came to see the museum’s exhibition.
He said the situation today for the Party has changed immensely. The party has risen from a revolutionary party facing a strong military enemy, to preside over the world’s second largest economy.
But the Party’s goals and its faith in the Chinese people have remained unchanged.
“The Long March has left behind a long legacy, that includes: a firmness in faith, a willingness to sacrifice, a commitment to truth and a devotion to China and its people. By holding this exhibition, we hope to keep this legacy alive, because we are on a new Long March towards China’s rejuvenation,” said Huang Yibing, Deputy Curator of Military Museum of China.
Wang Tianbao retired back in 1987, after spending years commanding China’s East China Sea airforce fleet. He says his whole life has been a Long March with the Communist Party, and says the next generation must keep on marching.