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Aviation museum honors war pilots

A memorial museum dedicated to pilots who sacrificed their lives fighting China's War against Japanese Aggression opened to the public yesterday.

The 4,000-square-meter museum sits at the northern foot of Zijin Mountain in Nanjing, capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province.

"I have been waiting for this day for decades," said Wang Jian, vice chairman of Nanjing Aviation Fellowship Society. "Here marks the heroism of airmen from across the globe who helped us defend our country."

The museum is free of charge so that more people can learn about this part of history, said Wang.

A monument inscribed with 3,304 names was built to commemorate aviation martyrs prior to establishment of the museum. Another 990 Chinese and American names will be added.

Beside the monument is Nanjing Aviation Martyr Cemetery where 170 pilots who fought the war are buried.

"The limited space of the monument was far from enough to showcase the great deeds of the martyrs, so we decided to build a museum," Wang said.

The Administration Bureau of Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum started construction of the museum in April 4, 2008.

Support from all walks of life was essential to the establishment, said Shen Xianjin, deputy chief of the administration bureau.

Nanjing Aviation Fellowship Society received 2.8 million yuan (US$410,000) donation from individuals and organizations at home and in the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Chen Xiangmei, president of the Council for International Cooperation and wife of General Clair Lee Chennault, captain of the renowned Flying Tigers, donated her husband's diary and medals.

The museum consists of four exhibition halls, two depicting the war's air battles while another two showcase the life of the martyrs.

Gao Liliang, daughter of Gao Zhihang, an airman with distinctive battle achievements, said: "I feel deeply touched that so many people still remember the sacrifices the aviation martyrs made during the war. May they rest in peace and their spirit live forever."

(Shanghai Daily September 27, 2009)