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Lai Ning:a 14-year-old hero

CPC Encyclopedia

At the age of 14, Lai Ning was conferred posthumously as a national hero. In the spring of 1988, he assisted firefighters to put out a forest fire in Shimian county, Sichuan Province, but as the igneous situation was so violent, he finally died.

Lai's death captured headlines of many newspapers, publishing long obituaries in memory of his bravery and nobility. Anecdotes of his deeds were soon circulating among the young peers, who were encouraged to learn from him.

Lai Ning:a 14-year-old hero

Lai was born in 1974. Though as a schoolboy, he was ambitious. Once upon a time,his teacher asked in the class, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Lai quickly answered that he wanted to be a geologist.

In several years, Lai was eager to learn knowledge about all kinds of mineral. Instead of playing and watching television like his classmates, he was used to collect specimens after school.

However, on March 13th, 1988, because of a gale, the poles in a factory in Shimian county were blown down. It made a short-circuit, and soon caused a terrible fire. The scene of the fire was near the forest, satellite receiving station, as well as a depot, so the situation was very dangerous.

Lai Ning joint the firefighting adults voluntarily. Regardless of the danger to himself, he fighted for about 5 hours and gave his precious life.

However, as time went by, the admiration for the hero boy faded as his name was occasionally mentioned and then barely remembered. Although he was elected in 2009 as the top 100 figures that deeply moved the people in the country since 1949, his legend lost its glamour as schools and parks moved his photos and sculptures out of sight.

Should adults encourage children to offer help when the mission is out of their capabilities? The question puzzles many who knew Lai's story in their childhoods and now have children of their own. "It is good to forget Lai Ning,", one of China's biggest news websites, published its opinion when using a special page to cover the controversial issue. In one of its editorials, Zeng Xian, a critic from China Youth Daily, questioned if the adults set a wrong ethic code for the children who are induced to ignore the preciousness of their own lives to pursue moral glories.

Yet Sun Yunxiao, an expert on adolescents and also the first one who covered Lai's story, frowned at the idea of completely denying the boy's heroic identity. "His story is real, not fabricated, though people doubted pure nobility in such a multicultural society," Sun said. "Actually, the boy possessed lots of good qualities that are ignored by many of the young people nowadays," Sun said.