Even If It Sucks, At Least We KNOW About It

Tank Man Photo

Twenty years ago today I was watching television with my father and I remember clearly the Tank Man. Standing his ground in Tiananmen Square in mainland China as a tank approached him. As an idealistic high school kid weeks away from becoming a senior I remember wondering if I believed in anything so much that I could stand there and face what looked to be certain death.

Students on June 4, 1989, were protesting Communism and peacefully demonstrating for Chinese democracy and allegedly hundreds (most likely thousands) were killed by the Chinese government. The massacre made world wide headlines and on the twentieth anniversary of this occasion the Chinese government has harbored a blackout of information regarding the event because they don’t discuss it all. They’ve even turned away people who were coming to China to recognize the 20th anniversary.

The United States has a checkered history at best. Our Founding Fathers created a land where “All men are created equal” at a time when not nearly all men and certainly no women were equal at all. It’s taken hundreds of years and we still haven’t lived fully up to the promise of 1776 America. But the main difference here is that at least we know about it. The ugly, the ridiculous, and even the embarassing parts of America’s past we have at least had the opportunity to learn about them and subsequently learn FROM them.

Today what some bloggers are calling “Chinese Internet Maintenance Day” the Chinese government has shut down popular sites like Hotmail, Twitter, and many others. They have cut satellite communications coming from the west because they don’t acknowledge the Tiananmen Massacre and there are even some children that have never heard of it.

It would be like my children, ages 12 and 14, never knowing about the Civil War, Vietnam, or the Watts Riots, or even the Holocaust. These Chinese children are missing out on their history and the ability to learn from these events. They are missing that eerie footage of the man, now¬†commonly known as Tank Man, face those oncoming tanks with steel resolve and jumping on top of a tank and talking to one of the soldiers… probably just a kid like him.

Battle of the Civil War

We still have a lot of work to do in America and if we look at the past 400 years we have accomplished a lot. It’s nice to be able to look back and see the difference.

I wish the kids in China had the ability to do the same. I wish they could see this video:

June 4, 1989
Click the date to view.

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