Twenty-five years later

I never before saw all the raw video footage of “Tank Man’s” defiance against a column of army tanks until today. It is remarkable, how one nameless man entered all of our living rooms for just a moment and is remembered so vividly a quarter of a century later. And for good reason.

Let’s keep the hundreds of murdered innocents in our thoughts today, and keep alive the fight to let the Chinese people know all who died during the crackdown. Let’s remember the Tiananmen Mothers, and let’s even hope for the day when the CCP admits the demonstrations were not an act of “counterrevolutionary” treachery inspired by foreign subversives, but an expression of the Chinese people’s yearning for a say in their government, for their voices to be counted, for officials to be held accountable. The demonstrators were patriots, not traitors. Sometimes foolish, sometimes caught up in their own infighting and bickering, but patriots nonetheless. Watch the Tank Man footage. Remember how and why he became an icon for standing up to brute force. (The driver of the tank should be remembered as well for his humanity. He could easily have killed Tank Man in an instant.) Every year I say Never Forget. Now, 25 years later, I say it with even more urgency. The Party, in its efforts to keep the TSM a taboo topic, reveals its own vulnerability and weakness. They must not be let off the hook. At some point the truth has to be told.

The Discussion: 9 Comments

I’ve seen that footage many times, but not recently. The world would like to know what happened to Mr. Tank Man. I agree the tank driver was also a brave man.

25 Years: I was in China for the entire month of May…was in Beijing for 8 days, walked from 日坛 Ritan to 天安门广场 Tiananmen Square almost every day. I saw the PLA military helicopters flying overhead on May 21st, the day after Marital Law was declared, but that didn’t stop people from walking on 长安街 ChangAnJie towards Tiananmen Square. That day, I was able talk my way to get into the Martyr’s Shrine, which was protected by 2 rings of student security groups. I spent a night sitting in a bus blockading an intersection, dozens of buses blocked the intersections. I took hundreds of pictures using my Nikon F, which made it easy for people to know I wasn’t a local Beijinger. I also was at the Beijing Hilton and saw CNN pack up their camera’s.

My recollection of what happened 25 years ago is fading. One day, I need to find my collection of pictures, that I left somewhere at my Mother’s house. It would help jog my memory of what I experienced in Beijing.

June 4, 2014 @ 12:58 pm | Comment

I’ve sen the footage 1,000 times, too – but never the raw footage where you can hear the reporter talking.

You were a witness to history. Find your pictures.

June 4, 2014 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

I looked once, because many of my Beijing friends would like to see them posted somewhere. I’ll have to look again. There weren’t in the closet spaces, where I thought I place them.

June 4, 2014 @ 1:04 pm | Comment

Note: I am not accepting comments that simply say “America is worse,” so don’t bother writing them.

June 5, 2014 @ 9:14 am | Comment

it was a sad day 25 years ago, plus 30 or so mothers of those children murdered by Creative Cons Punks didn’t live long enough to see those Creative Cons Punks accept that Mr. D.X. Peng ordered the murder of thousands of students that day.

This is in addition to millions who died from 48 to 38 years ago by the same Creative Cons Punks.

June 6, 2014 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

Interesting set of TM photos here taken from The Independent.

June 8, 2014 @ 6:03 am | Comment

Visual images can be just so powerful.
Try this set from the NYT which are right out of Cool Hand Luke.

June 8, 2014 @ 6:52 am | Comment

I never seen the raw footage before, Im surprised it went on for so long. But it stops at 2:55. Why? There must be more. The reporters must have continued filming. Does anyone know what happened after that point.

July 21, 2014 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

Two demonstrators ran out and whisked “Tankman” away, melting with him into the crowd. Who he is, of course, and what became of him, will almost certainly never be known. The best piece I ever read about him was in Time magazine by Pico Iyer:

Almost nobody knew his name. Nobody outside his immediate neighborhood had read his words or heard him speak. Nobody knows what happened to him even one hour after his moment in the world’s living rooms. But the man who stood before a column of tanks near Tiananmen Square – June 5, 1989 – may have impressed his image on the global memory more vividly, more intimately than even Sun Yat-sen did. Almost certainly he was seen in his moment of self-transcendence by more people than ever laid eyes on Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and James Joyce combined.

The meaning of his moment – it was no more than that – was instantly decipherable in any tongue, to any age: even the billions who cannot read and those who have never heard of Mao Zedong could follow what the “tank man” did. A small, unexceptional figure in slacks and white shirt, carrying what looks to be his shopping, posts himself before an approaching tank, with a line of 17 more tanks behind it. The tank swerves right; he, to block it, moves left. The tank swerves left; he moves right. Then this anonymous bystander clambers up onto the vehicle of war and says something to its driver, which comes down to us as: “Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you.” One lone Everyman standing up to machinery, to force, to all the massed weight of the People’s Republic – the largest nation in the world, comprising more than 1 billion people – while its all powerful leaders remain, as ever, in hiding somewhere within the bowels of the Great Hall of the People.

July 23, 2014 @ 8:38 am | Comment

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