|Birth Day:||December 18, 1940|
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He joined the People's Liberation Army at age 20.
The current biography of Lei Feng as given in China's state media says that he was born in Wangcheng (near the town of Leifeng, Changsha, Hunan, named in his honour), Lei was orphaned at a young age. According to CNTV, Lei lost all of his family prior to the establishment of the People's Republic. His father died when he was just five (killed by the invading Japanese Army), his elder brother, who was exploited as a child labourer, died a year later, and his younger brother passed soon afterwards. Finally, his mother committed suicide after being "dishonored by a landlord." He became a member in the Communist youth corps when he was young and joined a transportation unit of the People's Liberation Army at the age of twenty. According to his official biography, Lei died in 1962 at the age of 21 (22 by East Asian age reckoning, by which a newborn is one year old at birth), when a telephone pole, struck by an army truck, hit him as he was directing the truck in backing up.
Lei Feng was not widely known until after his death. In 1963, Lei Feng's Diary was first presented to the public by Lin Biao in the first of many "Learn from Lei Feng" campaigns. The diary was full of accounts of Lei's admiration for Mao Zedong, his selfless deeds, and his desire to foment revolutionary spirit. Lin's use of Lei's diary was part of a larger effort to improve Mao's image, which had suffered after the Great Leap Forward. Scholars generally believe that the diary was forged by Party officials under Lin's direction.
Lei Feng's story continues to be referenced in popular culture. A popular song by Jilin singer Xue Cun (雪村) is called "All Northeasterners are Living Lei Fengs" (Chinese: 东北人都是活雷锋; pinyin: Dōngběi Rén Dōu Shì Huó Léifēng). A 1995 release, originally notable only for its use of Northeastern Mandarin, it shot to nationwide fame when it was combined with kitsch animations on the Internet in 2001. In March 2006, a Chinese organization released an online game titled Learn from Lei Feng Online (学雷锋) in which the player has to do good deeds, fight spies, and collect parts of Mao Zedong's collection. If the player wins, he or she gets to meet Chairman Mao in the game. In the 21st century his image has been used to sell items including, in one case, condom packaging.
A 2008 Xinhua survey noted that a large number of elementary school students have vague knowledge of Lei Feng's life, with only 32 percent of the surveyed having read Lei's diary.
The lauded details of Lei Feng's life according to official documents led him to become a subject of derision and cynicism among segments of the Chinese populace. As John Fraser recalled, "Any Chinese I ever spoke to outside of official occasions always snorted about Lei Feng." In a 2012 interview with the New York Review of Books, Chinese dissident blogger Ran Yunfei remarked on the moral and educational implications of the Lei Feng campaigns, noting the counterproductive nature of teaching virtues with a fabricated character.
Currently, Lei Feng is 80 years, 11 months and 10 days old. Lei Feng will celebrate 81st birthday on a Saturday 18th of December 2021.
Find out about Lei Feng birthday activities in timeline view here.