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Home>>Photo >> China
08:24, September 16, 2009

Their best foot forward

The civilian 'block' representing female militia prepare for the National Day Parade, set for Oct 1.(Chian Daily/ Liu Guili)

The moment Zhao Xinna heard about a chance to be in the Oct 1 parade, she wanted to march, even though she knew it might mean 10 months away from her newborn baby.

"Being in the parade has been my dream for 10 years," the 28-year-old said.

A decade ago, during celebrations to mark New China's 50th birthday, Zhao was in Tian'anmen Square among thousands of student dancers. Back then, she marveled at those in the parade and, ever since, had a burning desire to take part.

Now, as a member of the civilian 'block' that will represent militia in the parade marking 60 years since the founding of the People's Republic, her dream is coming true.

Out of all the blocks in the massive parade, Zhao's is the only one comprised of civilians. Each member is female and lives in Beijing's Chaoyang district.

Zhao said she first heard about the opportunity to take part late last year during a recruitment event in her sub-district of Chaowai. At the time, her daughter, Tiantian, was 8 months old.

Zhang Xiaofei (left) and Zhao Na train with other members of the civilian 'block'. (Chian Daily/Zhang Wei)

Zhao said the full-time preparation for the parade, where she has learned to march to a military standard, has been painful sometimes, but no sacrifice was greater than being away from her child during her intensive residential training.

"That was painful. I have been staying away from home," said the young mother, who took a photo of her daughter with her. "Every night, before the blackout, I take the photo out to have a look. But compared with the honor, the pain is nothing."

She has been writing a diary, recording her parade experiences, for her daughter.

Wang Haiyang, commissar for the block, said its members include people who work in schools, hospitals, government agencies, State-owned firms and private companies.

He said most members, born in the 1980s or early 1990s, are sole children in their families.

"They give up their creature comforts when they come to camp to train," he said, pointing out that the stereotypical view of young people is that they are self-centered. Wang said, despite the stereotype, it was easy to find young people wanting to take part.

Zhang Yuanyuan is such a person. She is the only member of the squad to have returned from overseas, having lived in Singapore for five years.

"My friends told me, the moment I become a Singapore citizen, my Chinese passport must be cut in half," the 28-year-old Beijing resident said. "I could never allow that to happen."

Zhang and Zhao and the others in the team are looking forward to the moment they pass Tian'anmen Square together.

Zhao said she cannot imagine how that will feel.

Then, she said, she will once again see her daughter and she wonders how that will feel - to once more hold her child in her arms only this time as a parade veteran.

Source: China Daily

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