Thursday, June 4, 2009

We Remember Because They Cannot

Twenty years ago today, the Chinese Army ruthlessly put down civilian protests in Tiananmen Square.  Weeks of protests that spread from students to workers to peasants and swept the nation culminated in Beijing that summer.

They wanted more freedom.

What they got was their own army using tanks and guns to stop what the government feared was a growing seed of revolution.

No one knows for sure how many died that night.  No one is entirely sure how many were imprisoned and executed in the weeks and months following the military crack down.

Through it all, was CNN.  The news network was only 9-years-old and still in its infancy. They had negotiated the rights to cover the Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev's visit and found themselves covering much more.  CNN, as a 24 hour station, was able to provide unprecedented coverage.

In this modern era of the 24-hour news cycle, it's hard to place this into its proper perspective.  What the world watched happen in 1989 was nothing short of miraculous.  Beginning in January with the formation of the Solidarity movement in Poland and culminating in the opening of Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin on November 9, we watched the end of the Cold War on live television.  Right smack dab in the middle of it all was Tiananmen square.

For those of you too young to remember these events unfold, it's hard to describe.  Watching the tank man stare down those tanks on June 5, after so many of his countrymen had died, was heart stopping.  No one knows who he was.  But we all know what he did.

Since the Chinese government does not allow its citizens to view news or internet coverage of this event, we watch it for them.

And we remember.


Anonymous said...

Watching video of this event always makes me teary-eyed. The passion, the belief that they had to speak out even if it didn't make a difference is just so moving. I bring this up every semester and, sadly, every semester I find that fewer and fewer students have even heard about it.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that!