i wondered, i learned.

With the Olympics underway, i found myself wondering what the lyrics to the Chinese National Anthem “March of the Volunteers” were.

Thanks to the internet i did not have to wonder too long:

Arise! All who refuse to be slaves!
Let our flesh and blood become our new Great Wall!
Chinese nation faces its greatest peril,
All forcefully expend their last cries.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Our million hearts beat as one,
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
March on! March on! On!

According to Wikipedia, this song was written by Tian Han in 1934. They were written for a play he was writing. In 1935 the song, with slight changes, was the theme song of a patriotic movie: ‘Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm.’

‘March of the Volunteers’ was used as the Chinese Nat’l Anthem for the first time in 1949. Due to controversy the line “The Chinese nation faces its greatest peril” was changed to “The Chinese people have come to their moment of emancipation.”

In June of ’49 China began looking for it’s official National Anthem. Among the over 6000 submissions, ‘March of the Volunteers’ was among the list. Although the line: “The Chinese nation faces its greatest peril” was still a source of trouble.

A man named Zhou Enlai gave an understanding to the line saying, “We still have imperialist enemies in front of us. The more we progress in development, the more the imperialists will hate us, seek to undermine us, attack us. Can you say that we won’t be in peril?” Apparently his explanation made sense as Mao supported the viewpoint and the song was made Official.

But during the Cultural Revolution Tian Han was put into prison and ‘March of the Volunteers’ was forbidden to be sung. In 1978 the song was restored (with lyric changes), and in 2004 the original version was made the National Anthem of the Peoples Republic of China.

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2 Responses to “i wondered, i learned.”

  1. libbie Says:

    how strange that the national anthem for a country that has some of the worse human rights problems can be so powerful and can praise so strongly the idea of freedom.

  2. coffee messiah Says:

    What I always remember, it’s not the people, but the politicians that are turning people against one another.

    Look at us in the usa……especially after these past 8 yrs. ; (

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