Kang Zhengguo, Yale instructor and author of Confessions: An Innocent Life in Communist China, writes this editorial for the New York Times:
It was on the eve of another National Day, in 1968, that the security police suddenly arrested me and put me in a detention center without any explanation. During interrogation, I found out that my “crime” was related to a letter I had written a year before to the Moscow University Library, requesting a copy of “Dr. Zhivago,” which was banned in China as counterrevolutionary. The police had intercepted the letter and had been monitoring me for quite some time.
I was sentenced to three years of re-education in a labor camp, where I spent two National Days behind bars. On those days, prisoners were granted a reprieve from working in the fields. National Day was a holiday for the guards, who simply locked us inside while they went home. We were able to enjoy a day without supervision. More important, every prisoner would get a few morsels of pork in his meal, which normally featured half-rotten vegetables, thin corn gruel and steamed corn buns.
So while the whole country was involved in the Oct. 1 celebration, we huddled together inside our cells, chatting and playing cards, a rare break from the daily grind of hard labor. The parade, the fireworks and the slogan shouting seemed as remote as a half-forgotten dream.