I have asked for years who this brave man was? No one knows, nor will we ever know. He is as unknown as anyone from a distant past. But, he is not from the distant past. These images are from 1989!
This young man who was probably far younger than I changed the world by simply saying to a gathering of tanks.......ENOUGH!!!!!
But both the man with his shopping bags, and the man in charge of this tank are unique parts to this story.
The China of 1989 is not existent anymore. Much due to the image of this man. Who was willing to stop not only a tank, but a squadron of them. Saying most probably, get out of my city. This image has inspired people all over the world, except China. Where it is still not very well known.
The riots in Tienanmen Square shook the world to it's very core. The results of the riots have changed China and improved it greatly.
I showed this photo to a Chinese Graduate from Beijing University in 2007 who had just arrived in the United States. He had never seen it before and was inclined to think it was a fabrication. This is how well this iconic image has been cloaked by the Chinese Government.
This image gave strength to the East Germans and to the Russian people as they faced down the crumbling communist government. While no one knew his name, or if he was alive was there with them. The spirit of Tank Man walks with us all. He faced the greatest force and stood up to it all. He is the inspiration of the word change.
To see how many tanks he was holding up see the image below.
One has to say something about the tank commander. He did not run over the young man, he did not try to shoot him, and he tried to get around him. When he saw that he could not, he shut off the tanks motor.
There are just a few images of this brave young, unknown man. There is no information on the tank commander either. All is lost to us. In a way both are heroes in their own way.
I always dreamed that by the 25th anniversary of this massive riot, we would know who he was. But today this man who walked among us and did what none of us could is lost to us in history. He was young, far younger than me I am sure at that time.
I often think of this young man and who he was. He was probably a common man who had done a days work and saw this advance of the tanks. He had his shopping with him, he had no plans to stop the tank. But at a certain moment he rose beyond the ranks of a mere mortal and faced the greatest challenge. Who of us will ever be so noble or far advanced to do such a thing. He had no idea he was being filmed. The only film of him was stored in a toilet tank to hide it from the Chinese authorities.
This tells us one thing. There are many Tank Men and there will be many more.
But, this brave young man's image will be known when tanks are obsolete. When the communist government of China is no more and will inspire others to show that one person can make a difference.
To who ever you are, Tank Man, you have inspired me in ways I cannot put into words. You have changed a world and moved it forever forward.. More than you ever dreamed!