This Day in History: 'Learn from Lei Feng Day' Campaign Begins

By That's, March 5, 2020

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On March 5, 1963, Chairman Mao initiated the ‘Follow the examples of Comrade Lei Feng’ propaganda campaign. 

Born in Wangcheng, Hunan province in 1940 and orphaned at an early age, a quick read of Lei Feng’s diary will tell you that his was a life devoted to the socialist cause, filled with the revolutionary will to work arduously for self-improvement and the heroic spirit of being ready to take up cudgels for a just cause without care for his own safety. Sadly, that life was cut tragically short – Lei died in 1962 at the age of just 21 when, as a member of a transportation unit of the PLA, a telephone pole, crashed into by an army truck, struck him. According to his official biography, that is.

Lei-Feng-StatueImage via Wikimedia

Some are cynical about the official details of Lei’s life, and believe his diaries to have been doctored. The propaganda campaign began at a time when the Chinese economy was recovering from the Great Leap Forward, the failure of which had seen Mao’s image suffer. Skeptics have noted, for instance, that the campaign presented a collection of 12 exceptionally high-quality photographs of Lei performing good deeds while he was supposedly just an unknown young man engaging in mundane tasks.

Lei_Feng_11.jpgImage via Wikimedia

Yet while Lei’s prominence in school textbooks has declined over the years, he remains part of the national curriculum, with March 5 annual ‘Learn from Lei Feng Day,’ marked by various community-minded actions, such as cleaning up schools, parks and other public spaces.

PHOTOS: Lei Feng's Biggest Fan Gets Plastic Surgery to Look Like PLA Poster Boy


For more This Day in History stories, click here.

[Image via Wikimedia]

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