Chinese people across the country paid tribute to nearly 2 million martyrs online during Tomb Sweeping Day on Sunday.
A Chinese official website specially dedicated to martyrs launched an event for the annual festival so people could pay their respects via an online platform to those who gave their lives.
The site has a searchable database listing 2 million heroes by name whom visitors could choose to honor, sweep their tombs and leave flower baskets. As of 10 pm Sunday, the website showed that more than 23 million people had mourned fallen heroes.
Speaking of the festival, President Xi Jinping has said that heroes always charge forward when a calamity occurs and this embodies the great spirit of the Chinese nation.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the Chinese nation worships heroes and gives birth to a multitude of heroes. He said the accomplishments of the revolutionary martyrs will go down in history and their names will never be forgotten.
The purpose of learning from the heroes, he said, is to apply their spirit in one's everyday work and demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility toward people's lives and safety.
Honoring martyrs has always been part of the tradition of this festival, and this year, in keeping with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic precautions, online services enabled people to honor the deceased while avoiding mass gatherings.
People from across China left comments on the martyrs website. A user from Shandong province said, "A tribute to the people's heroes, without whose sacrifice, we would not have a better life."
Qiao Peiyuan, a high school student from Henan province, said: "Honor the martyrs. The martyrs of the revolution never die! May we remember them and contribute our efforts to building China!"
After the event on the website, netizens used various ways of honoring martyrs on social media. On Sina Weibo, a microblogging platform, netizens discussed many topics and some of these threads soon garnered millions of comments.
The topics included "The People's Heroes Never Die", "They Are Alive So Long As We Remember Them", "We Will Always Remember You" and "They Dedicated Their Last Heartbeat to the People of Their Country".
China Central Television's official online account posted on Saturday night a video of three minutes of silence and called on netizens to repost it and to observe the silent vigil themselves. The video was reposted more than 4 million times.
"I am truly and deeply grateful to and remember the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in order to bring us the peace we have today," said Su Hanglu of Sichuan province.
"China has suffered so much. What's written in history books are just nonemotional lines but the hardships and suffering those martyrs went through are unimaginable. Each and every one of them deserves to be remembered," she said.