HANOI, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- In front of a monument with the inscription in red ink "Chinese martyrs are immortal," a group of around 30 people bowed their heads in silence here on Friday afternoon.
Dressed in black and white, the representatives from the Chinese embassy in Vietnam, Chinese enterprises, students and media, led by the Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Hong Xiaoyong, stepped upward in sequence to offer incenses in a memorial ceremony to mark the Chinese Martyrs' Day which falls on Sept. 30.
Here in the cemetery in Gia Lam District, some 15 km from the downtown of Hanoi, rest in peace 49 Chinese martyrs, who were military advisors of Vietnam in anti-France war, members of logistic Detachment 1, and Red River Bridge engineers.
In the shade of mango and litchi trees, the 49 graves staying in rows are all built with black granite.
Nguyen Xuan Canh, 54, a Vietnamese veteran who has served as a custodian at the cemetery for over seven years, told Xinhua that working here helped him find peace.
Canh leads a group of 15 people, all in their 40s or more, starting a day at 7:30 a.m. with sweeping and weeding the graves. Some of them are responsible for securing the cemetery.
"We try to keep the cemetery as clean as possible, all year around," Canh said, adding that regular upgrades are conducted each three to four months and a large-scale upgrade happens each three to four years to ensure the cemetery is in good condition.
Besides Chinese delegations who usually visit on occasions like Chinese Martyrs' Day and Qingming Festival, Vietnamese citizens usually come by, offering incenses and fresh flowers on the 1st and 15th day of a lunar month or on lunar holidays, said Canh.
"We also receive Vietnamese veterans who knew the Chinese martyrs during wars. When the veterans got too old, they had their sons or daughters came here to pay tribute to the Chinese comrades," Canh said.
To him, peace is "not only the quiet environment, but also the peace inside. I am happy that I can do something, on behalf of Vietnamese people, to show respect to the heroes that gave our country a helping hand," Canh said, with his eyes looking far beyond the graves.
According to the Chinese embassy in Vietnam, in the latter part of the 20th century, especially in the war against the United States invasion in the 1960s, upon the request of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people, more than 320,000 Chinese troops joined Vietnam's army in defending the country's independence and territory.
Between 1951 and 1976, 1,446 Chinese people were martyred in Vietnam.
Following the "on-site arrangements" principles consented by China and Vietnam, those martyrs were buried in 40 cemeteries in 22 provinces and cities in northern and central regions of Vietnam, according to the Chinese Embassy to Vietnam.