Watching the new film "Iron Man," Tan Lei, a sophomore from Daqing city of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, has tears in her eyes.
"The 'iron man' shall never be forgotten," Tan said. "He sacrificed all he had for China."
China's "Iron Man" was an oil driller named Wang Jinxi.
In September 2009, nearly 39 years after his death, Wang – who drilled the first well of China's largest oil field in Daqing -- was voted by the public one of the 100 most notable figures in New China's history.
In January, Wang was selected as one of the country's 10 most influential figures in the past 100 years by China Comment, one of the country's leading magazines.
Wang, as the first national role-model in China's industrial sector, inspired numerous people in China's vast work force, the magazine wrote.
"I felt blessed to have the opportunity to represent the heroism that touched the whole country," said Wu Gang, who plays Wang Jinxi in the film.
Wu said he lost 10 kg of weight for the film and had been almost blinded by rocks in shooting mud.
But "the hardship I experienced was nothing compared to that of Wang Jinxi," said Wu.
"I would give up 20 years of life so China can produce oil on its own land," Wang said when he first arrived at the oil field in Daqing, then a patch of uninhabited wetland. He seemed to have a premonition of his destiny.
Cranes were unavailable and water pipelines unconnected when Wang and his team started their work. None of those difficulties stopped them.
Wang and 30 others manually carried 60 tonnes of equipment from a railway station to the oil field.
They broke the ice of a nearby pond and fetched water to cool the drill. In five days, they transported more than 50 tonnes of water.
"We have to do everything possible. And we have to make the impossible possible," Wang said to his co-workers. Now the words are a motto for Chinese from all walks of life.
Such a heavy workload damaged Wang's health. After years of intense toil, the "iron man" died of stomach cancer at the age of 47 in 1970.
Wang's No. 1205 Drilling Team inherited his spirit and continued the legend. The team was the first to drill more than 1,000 oil wells in China. It set the records for the number of oil wells drilled for each month and year in the 1970s.
Wang's spirit has also been brought to life in the 11.6-hectareIron Man Memorial Museum where visitors learn about his life and career through his clothes, tools and diaries. The museum receives3,000 visitors a day.
"The Iron Man spirit is the essence of Chinese ethics, philosophy and the soul of the Chinese people," said Liu Bingjun, a visitor from Beijing.
Ying Shukun, 63, is a retired oil worker. Walking on the streets of Daqing, he stops from time to time before Iron Man statues spread across parks, squares and schools.
"When I meet difficulties, I always ask myself what would Wang Jinxi do," Ying said.
Sept. 26, 2009 marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the Daqing oil field. As the anniversary approaches, residents and visitors from across China are coming to Iron Man Square and surrounding the statue of Wang Jinxi, the spirit of Daqing, with bouquets.