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Today was a very special day for all of us in Tiananmen Square. For some reason, the usually long line of Chinese people waiting to pay their respect to the founder of communist China was quite short.  When the students were asked if they wanted to see Mai’s body they all jumped at the chance!  So for a brief moment the students and I were equal in our China experience because this was to be my first time at Mao’s mausoleum as well even though I was on my 12th trip to China.   

As we walked into the building we were told to be silent.  Guards cautioned students to take off hats and keep their hands out of pockets. Then there was Mao lying “in state”. A bright light shined on his face.  The white flowers purchased outside by thousands of admirers formed s huge pile just outside his room.  The closest parallel I can draw is to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in DC. Not exactly the same but the feeling of reverence lay over both places.   After all the build up, we only were in the room with Mao for 15 seconds!  Then it was over.  Still it was fascinating to see how This founding father was treated by his nation.  Certainly a powerful experience for the students.