Thursday, June 04, 2009

Twenty years ago today.

I'm so hopped on migraine meds I missed this earlier. I don't know how.

Twenty years ago, today, I was an idealistic college dropout, twenty years old, who watched this unfold on television, live, as far as I can remember. My father was and is a total news geek and if I was in the house, ever, he called me over to watch things as they unfolded. (I also caught live footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall this way. Among other things.)

Even at age twenty, I understood the significance. THE TANKS STOPPED. They did not want to harm the general public. And you know what happens when the military sides with the general public.


They missed it by a hair's breadth.

All the world over, I think everyone has associated with this guy, this everyday citizen who no one knew, who was on his way home with groceries, who was just sick and fucking tired of the violence and had totally had it. So he stepped up, and he said his piece (or demonstrated it) and made it known: the little guy was done with the violence.

I'm not sure anyone knows what ever happened to him. No one's quite sure who he WAS, at least here in the west. I sincerely wonder if he is still alive and somehow, I doubt it.

Religion isn't really my thing, but I hope wherever he is now, it's peaceful and he can get his groceries, and go home, and make himself a nice quiet dinner.


Amy Lane said...

Okay--so, what I do for literature, you just did for science AND social science. I bow down to you in awe and admiration. Come teach ME, dammit--this shit was not nearly as much fun when I was in highschool!

Roz said...

I think the guy was executed. Sad.

Donna Lee said...

It's hard for me to believe it's been 20 years. I remember that day so clearly (and I can't be old enough to remember things 20 years ago.) I was a 31 year old mother of two, soon to be 3, children wondering what kind of world they would inhabit. I admired that man so very much. Just a guy.

Louiz said...

Yep. I was living at home, just about to move out... and I remember my idealistic, pro protest anti authority foster sister* calling from university. "Watch the news" she said. "The revolution is underway". Brave guy, but in China they can't even commemorate the date this year.

*This would be the same foster sister who used to caress the frozen chickens in the supermarket and tell them never mind, it's over for you....

Shoveling Ferret said...

Apparently the Chinese response for the day was to allow foreign journalists in to the square but have "tourists" with umbrellas constantly walking into/through camera shots to completely obliterate attempts at filming or making a coherent report.
The "tourists" in the videos I saw are all single males wearing, as noted by a few reporters, ear pieces.
Rumors about "Tank Man" range from executed by firing squad, living incognito somewhere in mainland China, to having escaped to Taiwan.

Emily said...

I was teaching some Taiwanese students that day, in their home. The mother was very upset over the news, but sort of brushed it off as "those Chinese", which, idiot that I was, was the first I realized Taiwan was a different country. Well, we have a sizeable Taiwanese community here, also a Chinese one, AND a Korean one, and so I had a lot of Asian students. The kids were all very Americanized; what impressed me (and still does) was how brave their parents were, to go to such a different country & learn a whole new language & raise their kids here.

I find it heartening that the events in Tienanmen Square have not vanished into historical oblivion, in spite of the Chinese government's efforts.