President Xi Jinping and state leaders attended a high-profile ceremony yesterday at Tiananmen Square in Beijing to mark the first Martyrs' Day, in an apparent attempt to promote patriotism. Members of the Communist Party's powerful Politburo Standing Committee and senior military officials observed a moment of silence and placed wreaths and baskets of flowers in front of the Monument to the People's Heroes. Its foundation was laid by the country's founding leaders 65 years ago. The National People's Congress announced the creation of Martyrs' Day in August. It honours those who died serving the nation, beginning with the first opium war with the British in 1840, and including Kuomintang soldiers who died during the second Sino-Japanese war. More than 3,000 people, including relatives of martyrs and hundreds of schoolchildren, attended the ceremony, China Central Television reported. Local officials also gathered at martyrs' cemeteries following a national directive on the commemoration. The Ministry of Education issued a separate directive last week ordering schools to organise commemorative events to "guide the young students to follow socialist core values". Beijing will also raise by 20 per cent the amount it gives to martyrs' families, surviving Red Army soldiers, and disabled PLA soldiers. Currently disabled soldiers receive about 50,000 yuan (HK$63,000) per year, and the martyrs' families get 16,000 yuan. The Ministry of Civil Affairs announced on Monday the names of the first 300 soldiers honoured as martyrs. Beijing has designated two other public holidays related to Japan's wartime aggression - Victory Day over Japanese forces, held on September 3, and Nanking Massacre remembrance day, to be marked for the first time on December 13.