SPECIAL NOTE: Like stupid Trump, the Great Wall of China needs no introduction, but for those who want to understand more, I have included a short paragraph about the Great Wall from Wikipedia! This is a story about a man who has dedicated more than 40 years of his life, trying to patrol and protect sections of the Great Wall from thieves and those who do not seem to appreciate one of China’s historical heritage: The Great Wall of China. In his own words: “I want the Wall and its natural surroundings to maintain their original state.” Since last year, Zhang has been invited by various media organizations to share his knowledge and ideas about preserving the ancient structure. “Thanks to them, more people can hear my plea, and as a guardian of the Great Wall, I want to spread the word: Let’s all work together to preserve the Great Wall.” Like India and UK, China has a long history and it is important and imperative to save history for the future generations to come. I have a confession here: When I first visited the Great Wall a few years ago, I was not happy with the very uneven steps as you climbed the wall…I felt it was hard on my legs and ankles because of the “uneven” spacing of the reconstructed steps for tourists…as a teacher then in USA, I decided to pick a piece of a rock to show my students that I had visited the Great Wall. I did the same picking a piece of a rock when I visited the castles in UK! Shame on me! But I felt then I wanted my students to see and feel something about these historical monuments! Enjoy the story about a man who continues to protect the Great Wall against people like me! Peace passion power, Steve Jan 26, 2018
(A short historical introduction, from Wikipedia: The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empiresagainst the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built in 220–206 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Little of that wall remains. The Great Wall has been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced over various dynasties; the majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
Apart from defense, other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.)
Great Wall’s guardian wins over locals
By ZHANG YU | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-26
From left: Zhang Heshan at work during his daily patrol on the Great Wall. He has worn out more than 200 pairs of shoes during his patrols.
His wife, Wang Yuexia, was opposed to his patrols because a great deal of Zhang’s time has been spent on the wall rather than doing farm work or earning more money in another occupation.
“People just didn’t realize and appreciate the importance of my guarding the wall at the time,” he said.
“I’ve committed myself to protecting it in much the same the way that I protect the wall that surrounds my courtyard, so that its greatness can be seen and appreciated by future generations.”
Zhang has insisted on performing his safeguarding duty for decades. He has worn out more than 200 pairs of shoes, and the distance he has covered during the patrols could have taken him around the globe twice.
His perseverance has gradually paid off. In 2002 he became the first farmer member of the China Great Wall Society and was officially hired as a Great Wall protector by the local cultural heritage bureau the following year.
In 2007, Zhang was awarded with a national honor－Outstanding Cultural Heritage Protector by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage for his enthusiasm and contribution to preserving the Great Wall.
Recognition from the authorities eventually won him acknowledgment from other villagers and his family. “Although I still don’t earn much money, I’m considered the pride of the whole family, and villagers have voluntarily stopped damaging the wall,” Zhang said.
Even foreign visitors to the relic have been impressed by what he has done to protect the massive historical artifact.
William Lindesay, the British founder and director of the International Friends Society of the Great Wall, met Zhang in 2007 when he was traveling along the Chengziyu portion.
Impressed by the section and what Zhang had been doing to preserve the Wall, Lindesay took other members of his group and a sponsor to visit Zhang in 2008.
Great Wall’s guardian wins over locals
Farmer’s decades of efforts to protect historical relic not always appreciated
A 10-kilometer section of the Great Wall spans Chengziyu and six other villages in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province.
A farmer committed to guarding the Great Wall from damage or theft in Hebei province is intent on preserving the cultural treasure in its original state.
Zhang Heshan, 62, from Chengziyu village in Qinhuangdao, has been a ranger for 40 years, patrolling and protecting a 10-kilometer section of the wall constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The section, which spans seven villages including Chengziyu, has several forms of fortifications typical along the famous sprawling structure, such as watchtowers, miniature castles, passes and platforms to observe and fire at enemies below. “This is a historic treasure that all generations should protect,” Zhang said.
He started to patrol the wall in 1978 when he found considerable damage done by local villagers, who had pilfered its bricks for their own use or smashed engraved stone tablets.
“The wall has been a part of me since I was a child,” Zhang said, adding that he used to play on the structure with his classmates. “If the fortifications were destroyed and reduced to rubble, how would I be able to relate the history of the wall to my grandchildren, and how could they play on it just as I did when I was young?” he asked.
On an almost daily basis Zhang spends about four hours walking along the wall to see if there is any fresh damage. Most days he catches people in the act of stealing bricks or herding sheep on the wall, and stops them in their tracks.
However, due to his daily patrols, resentment toward him from villagers and even his family has increased day by day.
“Due to my oversight, would-be thieves and vandals can’t continue to commit such actions on the Great Wall, and they are not happy about this,” Zhang said.
Together, they launched a Great Wall protection project to fund six wall rangers like Zhang for two years, and helped Zhang publish a book－Whispers from the Wall: Great Wall Folktales told across the Centuries－which contains folk tales about the Chengziyu Great Wall.
In addition to Lindesay’s efforts, more travelers from near and far have visited Chengziyu in recent years. “They like the original state of the wall rather than some newly constructed segments in modern times,” Zhang said.
He said some sections near Chengziyu have been developed and renovated to become scenic spots.
“I hope the Chengziyu section can become a famous tourist attraction, too, but definitely not with too much development or renovation,” he said.
“I want the Wall and its natural surroundings to maintain their original state.”
Since last year, Zhang has been invited by various media organizations to share his knowledge and ideas about preserving the ancient structure. “Thanks to them, more people can hear my plea, and as a guardian of the Great Wall, I want to spread the word: Let’s all work together to preserve the Great Wall.”