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The Army can change a man (2)
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11:37, July 05, 2007

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But Sun regularly came down with illness, and so his parents decided to send him to the military in 2005, hoping army life would build up his health.

That decision changed his life.

"I didn''t think it would be a big deal," he recalled.

How wrong he was. Confronted with a dose of real life, Sun broke down. On his third day in the army, he cried in front of all his comrades-in-arms.

His squad had been sent to fetch coal for the brigade. Sun stood there bemused while the others started digging and carrying.

"I had never seen a spade before, let alone used one," Sun said.

The squad leader scolded him for not behaving like a man and Sun burst into tears.

"I thought I was grown up and I seldom cried at home," he said. "But suddenly I realized how naive and incompetent I was."

For three months, Sun regularly shed tears as he struggled to improve his class performance, adapt to the strict military discipline and overcome the gulf he sensed between him and his comrades.

"I used the money my parents sent me to buy snacks to share with my comrades, but that didn''t really bring them closer," he said, adding that the only person he could confide in was his diary.

One day squad leader Hao Songrui found him in feeling very blue and sorry for himself. He told Sun that his money really belonged to his parents and he should not use it to show off.

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