While searching the Zibo area in Google Maps, I noticed that there was a "Cemetery of Revolutionary Martyrs" on the outskirts of town, not far from the school. I gather there was no shortage of martyrs in Shandong Province. Even if you survived the brutal Japanese occupation and the civil war, you could still be executed by the Communist Party's "Traitor Elimination Bureau" or be eliminated by a political rival for being a Trotskyite.
What better day to visit the cemetery and contemplate the hardships that this region endured than October 1st, National Day, the anniversary of the day when Mao proclaimed the new Chinese Republic from Tiananmen Square?
October 1st marks the first day of a three day national holiday, which is extended into seven days off by re-scheduling some classes. For the last few days we've heard the happy clatter of wheeled suitcases rolling over the brick pathways as students returned to their homes after only three weeks of classes. The city buses were crammed full and the taxis, both licensed and unlicensed, couldn't keep up with the flow of students heading to the bus or train station.
Our route took us along narrow unpaved village alleys and honking big highways and everything in between, and we had to detour around a barricaded road and climb a long hill til we spotted the memorial site. The roadway leading to the site was being used for drying corn. There was very little traffic to the memorial site but I think a ceremony was held in the morning, which we missed.
Then, on the bike ride home, as we rode through the village behind the campus, I spotted a poster -- hey, that guy looks familiar.... Turns out he is a local hero, Ma Yaonan, a schoolteacher and engineer who became a military leader fighting the Japanese. He died in battle at age 37.