Category Archives: Tiananmen

A Fresh Angle on “Tank Man”

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Twenty years ago, the image of a single protester defiantly blocking a column of tanks near Bejing’s Tiananmen Square became the icon of the failed movement to secure individual freedom in China. It has been called one of the most significant photos of the twentieth century.

Tank Man is to the left, off in the distance, framed by two trees. The tanks are emerging from the right.

Tank Man is to the left, off in the distance, framed by two trees. The tanks are emerging from the right.

Photographer Terril Jones recently released a photo that he took of that same event, but from a different angle. You have to look carefully to see the drama that was unfolding between the man and the tanks, but the surrounding details capture the sense of confusion and fear that make the man’s courage all the more remarkable.

We do not know what happened to Tank Man. According to the article on him on Wikipedia, the most likely scenario is that he was executed by the Chinese government. Whatever his fate, his solitary act of defiance that day will forever stand as a symbol of the human desire for freedom.

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