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Cover Stories Series 2012> Popular Icon
UPDATED: March 6, 2012 NO. 14, APRIL 5, 1963
'Learn From Comrade Lei Feng'

In Peking thousands of people are flocking to see the exhibition on his life. All over the country people are crowding the theatres to see the play or the documentary film about him. Millions have read and loved his diaries widely published in the nation's press. Songs and poems written about him are on the lips of China's younger generation. Hand-written inscriptions by Chairman Mao Tse-tung and other leaders reproduced in the press call on the nation to follow his example. Today, only a few months after his premature death, he is called "the great ordinary soldier"; everybody knows his name and learning from Lei Feng has become a nationwide movement.

Lei Feng was a young squad leader in a transport unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. A homeless orphan before the liberation, he lived the bitter life of the oppressed in the old society. After liberation, studying and working conscientiously under the guidance of the Communist Party, he grew into a fine man, imbued with the noble ideology of a communist, and with the moral qualities befitting a proletarian revolutionary. As a civilian, he worked in a Party office, in a factory and on a farm. In each case he was elected a model worker. In the army he won special citations and became an outstanding soldier and a model member of the Communist Youth League.

His greatness lies in his communist qualities which found expression in the plain everyday work he did. His thinking and deeds clearly reflected his clearcut class stand, his revolutionary spirit of suiting his actions to his words, his wholehearted, staunch and selfless devotion to the cause of communism.

The exhibition now open in Peking is jointly sponsored by the General Political Department of the P.L.A. and the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League. In graphic detail it tells of his love for his country, his determination to safeguard it at all costs, his hopes for the future while not forgetting his sufferings in the old society. It tells how he was content to be "a tiny screw"- which plays an ordinary but important role in the great cause of building socialism, how he loved whatever work he did, and did it well. It tells of Lei Feng helping a factory save cement from a sudden downpour, in his off-duty hours lending a hand in the fields to members of a rural people's commune, during a train trip helping the conductor look after fellow travellers, secretly contributing his savings to a people's commune, always ready to help his work-mates and fellow soldiers in their duties. What attracts most attention among the 300 exhibits are his diaries in which the young soldier recorded his thoughts and events in his daily life. Modestly written, these entries testify to his sterling character, his unselfish attitude in work and comradely consideration for others and, above all, his communist outlook expressed in the ideal he set himself to "live so that others may live better." It is precisely these qualities that have won him the admiration of the nation and that inspire the people to emulate him.

The movement to learn from Lei Feng has only just begun, but millions have already been stirred and inspired by his example to greater efforts in their work in every field of socialist construction, and to a greater awareness of the historic tasks which today confront "ordinary" men and women.

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