Thank You Tank Man

Tank Man stands his ground in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989 (Image Source: The Telegraph.co.uk)

Tank Man stands his ground in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989 (Image Source: The Telegraph.co.uk)

If it were a marriage we’d be gifting silver, for it has been 25 years since tank man stood his ground and defied the 100 tons of tank rolling right at him.

Tank man was part of a student demonstration and protest for democracy in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

In the original picture, taken by Stuart Franklin, there are in fact at least 15 more tanks ready to pick up where these 3 have left off. Yet there he stands, defying the government, and the military with what looks like a shopping bag in his right hand. I wonder what happened to Tank Man?

The picture was taken on the second day of protests, when the government decided to “spill some blood” and end the demonstrations. Tank man, no one knows for sure who he was or where he is today, not only brought the tanks to a stop, he also climbed up the lead tank and spoke to the soldiers inside.

After tank man climbed down again, the tank started its engine and the other tanks followed suit. But tank man once again stepped in front of the lead tank, and kept doing so despite the driver’s attempt to drive around him. Eventually 2 civilians pulled tank man away.

If it were here in the US I wonder if tank man would be considered a hero? Would he be on television being interviewed by Brian Williams? Would he be giving lengthy discussions about peaceful protests and their efficacy? Or would he just disappear from the public eye, never to be seen or heard from again.

China doesn’t want people to remember the June 4th demonstrations. Official death toll figures, although the Chinese government tried to suppress any research about the protests, range from 200-300. It is believed 2,000 civilians were wounded.

I just wanted to say thank you to tank man. That’s all. To the lone ranger who took on a fleet of tanks simply by standing in their way. He may not have had any great effect in his own country, but to me he is an icon of freedom. We need more icons.

I just hope he is still alive and those who survived the protests celebrate his heroism with him.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Thank You Tank Man

  1. Surreal. We were in the train station in Montreal heading home after a vacation. The bits and pieces of that story we’d heard in snatches wove themselves into that moment.

    The really bizzare part was explaining the week’s events to a group of students who’d been in a French immersion program on the Gaspe peninsula and had no clue what had happened.

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