The guard of honor escorts the national flag for a flag-raising ceremony at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, on Oct. 1, 2018, the National Day, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.(Xinhua/Li Gang)
BEIJING, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- At dawn on Monday, around 145,000 people from across China gathered at the Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, waiting for the start of a flag-raising ceremony -- the day marked the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
When military bugles were blown at 6:05 a.m., 96 soldiers from the Guard of Honor of the Chinese People's Liberation Army began to escort the national flag toward the square.
After 96 steps, the procession halted, facing toward the flag, while Yuan Jinshuang, the flag-bearer at the center of the procession, and two flag-escorts ascended to the pedestal in uniform steps.
"Salute the national flag!" -- when the order were pronounced, the PLA military band started playing the national anthem.
Accompanied with solemn music, Yuan hurled the red five-star flag into the sky.
To get the most beautiful curl on the flag and a full display of all the five stars, the 21-year-old Yuan practiced the move more than 1,000 times every day.
As the national flag rose along the post, the crowd joined in the chorus of the anthem. When the flag finally rose to the top of the post, cheers and applause broke out in the crowd.
Sincere wishes to the motherland were heard everywhere in the square, the heart of Beijing, while pigeons released spread their wings and flew into the sky.
"I feel lucky to live in such a country and such an era. For me, safeguarding the national flag, the emblem of the country, is the same as safeguarding the country and its people," said Cao Jinyuan, a member of the procession who was born on National Day.
Wang Pengfa, a self-employed businessman from the city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province, came all the way to join the ceremony. Wang, 54, has witnessed the development of his hometown.
"Over the past four decades, Qinhuangdao has evolved from a small town to a big city, which gives me a sense of pride that can never be exhausted," he said.
Riding the tide of internet economy, Wang began to transform his clothing shop. "As long as we seize the opportunity and remain hard-working, I just don't believe there is any difficulty we cannot overcome," he said.
University freshman Li Jiale just came to Beijing this year. Surprisingly for her, there were many people queuing up to get in the square that she could only stand to watch the ceremony from afar.
"My tears were shed the moment everyone sang the anthem as the flag rose up," Li said. "It was a kind of belief that unites people together to achieve our national dream."
Li's emotion was shared by many netizens who didn't make it to the ceremony.
"It is quite hard to explain why I suddenly burst into tears when I watched the video clip of the ceremony. Maybe it is for the simple fact that I am a Chinese," said one netizen on China's social network platform Weibo.