Monument to the People's Heroes

Monument to the People's Heroes

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The Monument to the People's Heroes is a ten-story obelisk
Obelisk
An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top, and is said to resemble a petrified ray of the sun-disk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon...

 that was erected as a national monument of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

.
The Monument was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggles of the Chinese people during the 19th and 20th centuries. It was built in accordance with the resolution of the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference [], shortened as 人民政协, Rénmín Zhèngxié, i.e. "People's PCC"; or just 政协, Zhèngxié, i.e. "The PCC"), abbreviated CPPCC, is a political advisory body in the People's Republic of China...

 adopted on November 30, 1949. The monument was designed by architect Liang Sicheng
Liang Sicheng
Liang Sicheng was the son of Liang Qichao, a well-known Chinese thinker in the late Qing Dynasty. Liang Sicheng returned to China from the United States after studying at the University of Pennsylvania...

, with some elements designed by his wife, Lin Huiyin
Lin Huiyin
Lin Huiyin was a noted 20th century Chinese architect and writer. She is said to be the first female architect in China. Her niece is Maya Lin.-Biography:...

.

Sources differ on the height of the monument, with estimates ranging from 37.94 metres in height. It covers an area of 32,000 square feet (3,000 square metres).

The monument was constructed from August 1952 to May 1958 and is located to the north of Mao Zedong's mausoleum
Mausoleum of Mao Zedong
The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall , commonly known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, or the Mao Mausoleum, is the final resting place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China from 1943 and the chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China from 1945...

 on the southern edge of Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen Gate located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world...

.

The monument weighs over 10,000 metric tons and contains about 17,000 pieces of marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 and granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 from Qingdao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

, Shandong Province
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

 and Fangshan District
Fangshan District
Fangshan District is situated in the southwest of Beijing, 38 km away from the downtown Beijing. It has an area of 2,019 square kilometers and a population of 814,367...

 outside Beijing.

On the pedestal of the tablet there are eight huge bas-relieves carved out of white marble covering the revolutionary episodes, which are depictions of Chinese struggle from the First Opium War
First Opium War
The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

 in 1840 to the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The relieves can be read in chronological order in a clockwise direction from the east:
  1. Destruction of Opium at Humen (1839), in the run-up to the First Opium War
  2. The Jintian Village Uprising in Taiping Revolution (1851)
  3. Wuchang Uprising
    Wuchang Uprising
    The Wuchang Uprising began with the dissatisfaction of the handling of a railway crisis. The crisis then escalated to an uprising where the revolutionaries went up against Qing government officials. The uprising was then assisted by the New Army in a coup against their own authorities in the city...

     (1911 Revolution)
  4. May 4th Movement (1919)
  5. May 30 Movement
    May 30 Movement
    The May Thirtieth Movement was a labor and anti-imperalist movement during the middle-period of the Republic of China era. It began when Shanghai Municipal Police officers opened fire on Chinese protesters in Shanghai's International Settlement...

     (1925)
  6. Nanchang Uprising
    Nanchang Uprising
    The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

     (1927)
  7. War of Resistance Against Japan (1931 and 1945)
  8. Crossing the Yangtze River
    Yangtze River
    The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

     Campaign, or Successful Crossing of the Yangtze River (1949)

On the front of the monument there is an inscription in Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

's handwriting, which reads "Eternal glory to the people's heroes!" .

On the back of the monument, there is a message which was drafted by Mao Zedong and written by Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

: "Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people's war of liberation and the people's revolution in the past three years!
Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people's war of liberation and the people's revolution in the past thirty years!
Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who from 1840 laid down their lives in the many struggles against domestic and foreign enemies and for national independence and the freedom and well-being of the people!" (Note: the "past three years" refers roughly to the Chinese Liberation War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

 (1946–1949); the "past thirty years" refers to the New Democratic Revolution
New Democracy
New Democracy or the New Democratic Revolution is a Maoist concept based on Mao Zedong's "Bloc of Four Social Classes" theory during post-revolutionary China which argues that democracy in China will take a decisively distinct path from either the liberal capitalist and/or parliamentary democratic...

 from the May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem...

 in 1919 to the end of the revolution in 1949; and "from 1840" refers to the general struggle of the Chinese people against the various external and internal strife engulfing China from the beginning of the First Opium War
First Opium War
The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

 to the establishment of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

.

Commemoration activities


The conduct of commemoration activities at the Monument to the People's Heroes is regulated by the Major Events Administration Office of the Tiananmen Area Administrative Committee. Strict rules apply to conduct within the vicinity of the Monument. In particular, climbing the monument beyond the protective barrier without prior approval is prohibited, as is photography and filming. Those intending to lay wreaths at the monument must apply five days in advance.

Since 1980, it has been customary for visiting foreign dignitaries, especially from countries with historical alliances with the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 such as former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 states, to lay wreaths at the Monument when visiting Beijing. Certain domestic groups, such as police and military units, would also sometimes lay wreaths at the Monument.

Aside from officially sanctioned commemoration, the Monument has also been the centre of large-scale mourning activities that later developed into protest and unrest. One notable example of such events is the spontaneous commemoration centred on the Monument following the death of Premier Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

, which developed into the Tiananmen Square protests of 1976
Tiananmen Incident
The Tiananmen Incident took place on April 5, 1976 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. The incident occurred on the traditional day of mourning, the Qingming Festival, after the Nanjing Incident, and was triggered by the death of Premier Zhou Enlai earlier that year...

. Another example is the spontaneous commemoration centred on the Monument following the death of Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang was a leader of the People's Republic of China who served as both Chairman and Party General Secretary. Hu joined the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s, and rose to prominence as a comrade of Deng Xiaoping...

, which formed part of the protest action that developed into the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

.

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