An amateur photograp

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    Jul 4, 2018
    TAIYUAN, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- An amateur photographer has every weekend for the past two years documenting and chatting with veterans who fought in China's war against Japanese aggression from 1937 to 1945.

    Li Ruobing, a clerk with the industrial and commercial bureau in Yangquan City of north China's Shanxi Province, compiled his photographs and conversations into a book, self-published it, and gave a copy to each of the veterans.

    "I did this to show the veterans that they are not forgotten," said Li. "I had to race against time because of their age."

    Guo Jingrui, who is over 90, cried like a child at the end of Li's interview. "His wife said she had never seen him shed a tear in decades. She said my visit was long overdue."

    One of the veterans, Wang Qi, died just a day before Li was to meet him. He did leave behind an old photo and a brief description of his wartime experience. Li included these in his book, too.

    "At least 20 of the veterans I interviewed did not live to see the book published," he said.

    Li's campaign began in the summer of 2014. He was visiting Wang Xixian, a veteran who was critically ill and bed bound at a welfare home.

    "On the window sill was a photo of him at the height of his youth: he was handsome, energetic and proud in his soldier's attire," said Li.

    Li asked Wang if he could salute and pose for another photo. "His eyes sparkled at my suggestion and he asked several time if his salute was 'up to standard.'"

    Li was moved by that photo, and decided to take more photos for every surviving veteran in his home province of Shanxi.

    With the support of the local government, he located about 200 veterans. He visited them one by one, often chatting for hours. Each visit ended with a photograph.

    Over the past year, dozens of volunteers have joined Li on his weekly veteran visits. During winter and summer vacations, school children also join him, hoping to hear history first hand.

    Li has so far revisited more than 50 veterans with his gift book. Each time he was received with hospitality and left in tears.

    "Some insisted on walking me to the door, even though they walked with great difficulty. Some buttoned up my coat for me fearing I might catch a cold."

    Even the youngest of the veterans are nearing 90 and many are unable to move about. All are awarded with medallions but few like to show off. "One of them told me his medallions should belong to his contemporaries who did not survive the war," Li said.

    "I hope my trips will go on forever. From these heroes I've learned all about devotion, loyalty and sacrifice."

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