Photographer documents growth of Sichuan 'salute boy'

13:58, April 18, 2011      

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Lang Zheng was only 3 years old when he was buried under the debris of the strong earthquake in Sichuan and rescued by soldiers of the People's Liberation Army on May 13, 2008. He is known to the nation as the boy in an iconic photo seen lifting his right hand in a show of gratitude and respect to his rescuers as he was carried away on a stretcher.

Yang Weihua (L) and Lang Zheng

The photo, titled "Expressing Gratitude for His Life," has touched people because it embodies the spirit and courage of all child victims of the natural calamity. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao praised Lang Zheng's strong will and courage when visiting him in the hospital.

Yang Weihua, a correspondent for the Mianyang Evening News, captured the touching scenes and published the pictures in the paper, which attracted much attention from various different segments of society.

Currently, Lang Zheng is now 6 and is in preschool. Yang Weihua said the boy studied hard and is very healthy. He met the boy every month or two to record his growth with photos.

Yang Weihua and Lang Zheng

"As a witness to the child's life since he was rescued from the rubbles, I decided to record the process with my photos without disturbing his normal life. In the past three years, I captured the image of the child when he received medical treatment in hospital, his recovery, everyday moments of his life, his birthday celebration, etc. I never published these pictures but just sought to faithfully record the boy's growth," Yang said.

"Lang Zheng and his family now have moved to their new home in Beichuan. I went to visit them during the Spring Festival of 2011. They lived happily in their new home," Yang added.

Lang Zheng lifted his right hand in a show of gratitude and respect to his rescuers as he was carried away on a stretcher.

During the past three years after the quake, Yang was always busy covering the affected regions and witnessed the miraculous change in Beichuan. He accomplished the sacred task of an employee of the media with enthusiasm and responsibility.

By Zhang Xinyi People's Daily Online

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