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Israeli veteran follows footsteps of Red Army


10-20-2016 12:53 BJT

Full coverage: 80th Anniversary of the Victory of the Red Army's Long March

In 2005, an Israeli veteran retraced the footsteps of the Chinese Long Marchers, showing his full respect and admiration for the heroes. His name is David Ben Uziel. He continues to keep the spirit of Long March in mind, which he describes as the 'Soul of China'.

81-year-old Israeli, David Ben Uziel has always been very curious about China. Stories about the Chinese Red Army's Long March had a profound impact on him.

However, as a former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli military -- working mainly in Middle East and Africa -- he hadn't any time to visit the country which fascinated him greatly. But his dream came true eleven years ago when he announced he was going to follow in the footsteps of the long marchers. He explained what drove him to his decision.

"The question that repeated itself in every place, town, county, village, why a foreigner at 70 wants to walk the long march. And my answer to them I want to find the soul of China, and they looked at me and said, what is the soul of China? I said it's the leadership," David said.

As he followed his route through small towns and villages, he soon became known by the local people as David Wu. He also met with a 90-year-old Long March veteran who told him what had bonded the marchers eighty years ago.

"And I was asking why did you soldiers follow you? he looked at me, and said I led my men, and I was in the head of the people all the time," David said.

Only when he had traversed the rugged snow mountains and pathless grasslands did David realise the severity of the task. And he conveyed his feelings to the Israeli national defense force when he returned home.

"The example of the Long March is unique, because of the conditions, they are so tough, so cruel, and I tell the officers : listen, you'll never face the conditions, not even imagine," David said.

That journey took David more than five months. It was difficult for his wife to reach him during that period. But she always supported his journey, and said younger generations could learn a lot from the Long March spirit.

"My grand children can learn from the long march, how to face difficult and not give up, to overcome to achieve something," David's wife Ruth said.

Although eleven years have passed since his remarkable journey, he has never lost any of this spirit. Now, he plans to write about it so others can understand his passion.

"In every red army museum on the way, I was invited to write on the guest books, so I wrote this: all soldiers of red army fought, starved, froze and continue to work, the long march are the foundation upon which China was united," David said.

But David is also keen to do more than just bring his story to Israel, he wants to make sure the Long March spirit can really grow in his homeland.

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