Festival Carnival
Tiananmen swells with pride as millions join together for the nation

By Jennifer Eden

National day is a time for pride, celebration and parades in most countries and China is no exception. With agencies predicting 42 million people will take to the skies, railways and roads Friday, I am opting for a more local vacation, but I am not expecting a quiet stay.

Most of the Beijingers I know have trips planned overseas or at least down south to join one of the planet's largest mass movements of human beings. The rest of China, whose total is up in the billions, could more than likely be heading to my neck of the woods on a traditional pilgrimage to Tiananmen Square to watch the flag being raised and stand where the founding of New China was announced, 61 years ago.

Heading to Tiananmen during this time is a complete mission within itself, but one not to be missed if real China is what you are seeking.

I took on the task myself some five years ago and the memories will long remain.

Enjoying a night out with friends and newly "off-the-boat," I leapt at the 2 am suggestion to head to Tiananmen and witness the flag raising ceremony with the sunrise on October 1.

Opting for a cab, we made it to within a few kilometers of the famous square before, even in the wee hours of the early morning, we were in total gridlock. Deciding to join the millions on foot who were trekking toward a vantage point, three fair-headed Australians somehow made it to the front of the barricade and we hoisted ourselves onto a nearby concrete pot plant to witness a scene that I will never ever forget. In 2005, the number of foreigners in China were relatively few and looking out over a sea of dark-haired Chinese moving as one was beyond amazing. People stretched down Chang'an Avenue either side of the square and in front of the Forbidden City for as far as the eye could see. Our jaws dropped at the sheer number of people, thousands who had traveled for several days from their hometowns just to be part of the event.

As the sun's rays peeked over the horizon and the sky transformed into a blend of orange and mystical blue, everyone fell silent. The echoes of sharp in-synch footsteps on concrete could be heard as military guards marched from the Forbidden City's gates to Tiananmen, carefully unfolding the national flag and slowly hoisting it to the top of the pole where it took to the wind and silence with pride. After a few minutes of magic, the barricades were slowly removed and Tiananmen opened to all. Millions of people waving miniature flags, beaming with delight and holding small children high in the air, had their photo taken, before heading home to relive their adventure to their friends and loved ones.

The experience instills a sense of being, self and respect and if you can find your way through the mass of people, is one to be embraced.

Source: Global Times

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· 1949: Highlight of the PRC Founding Ceremony
· National Day Origins in Different Countries

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