A veteran's honor and shame after war against Japanese aggression

08:38, July 07, 2011      

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by Xinhua writers Bai Xu and Lu Qiuping

At first glance, 91-year-old Ren Tinghan looks like any other ordinary farmer living in north China's Hebei Province. However, the scars on his body and a faded photograph on the wall of his home betray his past.

"It has been 70 years. Many of my fellows have already left," said Ren, a resident of the province's city of Langfang.

"July 7th is drawing near. It is time once again to mourn for them," the old man said.

Ren joined the National Revolutionary Army in 1936 and resisted Japanese invaders in Nanyuan, a town located near Beijing's Lugou Bridge, in 1937.

On July 7, 1937, Japanese soldiers attacked Chinese forces at Lugou Bridge, marking the official start of an eight-year war between the two countries. An extensive Japanese invasion hit China's shores just 20 days later.

"The memories are still very fresh. I feel like these events just happened yesterday," Ren said.


Although Ren came from a fairly well-off family, he still selected to join the military at the age of 17, one year after his marriage. The officer in charge of enlisting couldn't understand why a man from a wealthy family would want to be a soldier.

"He said to me that life was strenuous for a soldier," Ren said.

Ren went on to enlist in the pistol battalion of the No. 29 Nationalist Corps. His primary task was to protect the corps' commanders.

Ren keeps a clear vision of the time when his division commander, Zhao Dengyu, told him and his fellow soldiers that the Japanese had begun their invasion of Beijing.

"He said that the Japanese had asked to enter the city, stating they were searching for a 'missing soldier'," Ren said.

Ren's battalion quickly became agitated. "We were excited, because we finally had the chance to fight the Japanese," he said, adding he and the rest of his battalion were still too young to truly be afraid.

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