Aviation martyr memorial museum opens in E China

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A memorial museum dedicated to pilots who sacrificed their lives in fighting China's War against Japanese Aggression opened to the public Saturday.

The 4,000-square-meter museum lies on the northern foot of Zijin Mountain in Nanjing, capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province.

"I have been waiting for this day for decades," said Wang Jian, vice-chairman of Nanjing Aviation Fellowship Society, "here marks the heroism of airmen from across the globe who helped us to defend our country."

The museum is free of charge so that more people can learn about this part of history, said Wang.

Before the establishment of the museum, a monument, inscribed with 3,304 names, was built to commemorate the aviation martyrs. And another 990 Chinese and American names are to be added.

By the monument is Nanjing Aviation Martyr Cemetery where 170 pilots who fought in the war rest in peace.

The limited space of the monument was far from enough to showcase the great deeds of the martyrs, so we decided to build a museum by the side of the monument, Wang said.

Administration Bureau of Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum started the construction of the museum on April 4, 2008.

Supports from all walks of life were essential to the establishment of the memorial museum, said Shen Xianjin, deputy chief of the administration bureau.

Nanjing Aviation Fellowship Society received 2.8 million yuan (US$410,000) donation from individuals and organizations at home and from United States, Canada, Australia, Korea and Japan to build the museum.

Evgeny Tomikhin, Russian minister-counselor to China, brought 24 soft copies of records on the feats of Russian pilot fighters.

Chen Xiangmei, president of Council for International Cooperation (CIC) and wife of General Clair Lee Chennault, captain of the renowned Flying Tigers, donated the diary and metals of her husband to the museum.

The Flying Tigers, who helped China to fight the Japanese invaders with just 20 planes, shot down 217 enemy fighters at the cost of merely 14 combat aircrafts.

The museum consists of four exhibition halls, two of which depict the air battles of the war while another two showcase the life of the martyrs, Shen said.

Gao Liliang, daughter of Gao Zhihang, a martyr and airman with distinctive battle achievements, said, "I feel deeply touched that so many people still remember the sacrifices the aviation martyrs made during the war. May they rest in peace and their spirits live forever."

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