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A Picture from History: Tank Man

After the death of Hu Yaobang in 1989, students throughout Beijing gathered at Tiananmen Square to protest.

Tiananmen Square Protestor with Liberty Sign
A student protestor

By mid-May, tens of thousands of students occupied the square, and showed no signs of leaving anytime soon. 

In an effort to demonstrate their seriousness, a hunger strike began by many of the students on May 13.

This, in turn, inspired similar protests throughout China. 

Crowd at Tiananmen Square protests 1989
The crowd at the Tiananmen Square Protest

On May 20, martial law was declared. But the students didn’t leave. 

Shortly afterward, 250,000 troops marched into Beijing, accompanied by tanks, armored personnel carriers, and more.

They headed right into the midst of well over a million students.  

Crowd at Tiananmen Square protests 1989 2
Another shot of the crowd

On June 4 at 1 a.m., troops opened fire. 

The students fought back with stones, but it was of little use against rifles and tanks.

Soldiers in truck at Tiananmen Square Protests
Soldiers in coming in on a truck at Tiananmen Square Protest

It was the next day that one man entered the limelight of history. 

We may never know his real name, but to the world, he became known as the Tank Man.

Tank Man
The famous “Tank Man” photo

The grocery bags in his hands seemed to indicate it started as a regular day. 

Yet, as a column of 12+ tanks rolled down the Avenue of Eternal Peace, Tank Man held tight to his grocery bags and refused to move.

Tank at Tiananmen Square Protests
Tank at Tiananmen Square Protests

As the lead tank attempted to change its path, Tank Man shifted his position. The tank could not pass. 

Then, grabbing his bags in one hand, Tank Man jumped on the tank, and talked to the driver. 

What ultimately happened to Tank Man remains a mystery.

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

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11 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    We all know what happened to Tank Man

    October 17, 2021 7:57 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I love the style of this writing and subject. Reading reviews and “how-to” articles is fun, but it’s nice to get a fresh reminder of history every now and then too. Great piece! Thanks for writing this!

    October 16, 2021 4:56 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Thanks for reading!

      October 16, 2021 11:08 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I liked the article, great choice, but I thought it was too brief. The pictures were great and made me remember watching this happen on tv news. Thanks for writing this Aden.

    October 15, 2021 1:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Franklin Navarro

    We may never know who the Tank Man is or was, or what happened to him but what we cannot forget is the importance of this historical event. Just as important as knowing what the best barrel, triggers, or optics are. The whole point of 2A is to avoid situation like Tiananmen Square, and if, and if the time comes that casualties are minimal and not resort to rocks or sticks.

    October 15, 2021 1:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    No one will miss you Ben.

    October 15, 2021 1:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Ben left! My whole weekend is screwed now.

      October 15, 2021 1:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Author writes as he’s been there. Have you vetted your source? When a tactical site gets political on un-vetted source, that’s time to leave. I’ve been a reader when it was just Eric. Sorry to see this change of PPT. Bye.

    October 15, 2021 11:05 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Hey Ben, sorry to hear you are disappointed in this article. The author used the BBC and CNN as sources for this story. This article was not meant to be political in any sense, but rather just a look into a moment of history. We've been running this column for a few months now, examining different events and people at different points in history. I invite you to stay and check out some of our other articles as I'm sure you'll find something you like.

      October 15, 2021 12:10 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Even now China doesn’t have much of free journalism, can you imagine what free journalism in China was like back in 1989? Yet, you rely on BBC and CNN as source? No western media has figured how many life were lost in Wuhan during COVID out-brake. How do you get comfortable with numbers quoted in the article for an event took place 33 yrs ago?

        October 15, 2021 1:18 pm
        • Commenter Avatar

          I bet what triggered you so much was seeing CNN. Maybe instead of contributing useless comments you should consider providing what you feel is incorrect about this article and contribute positive ideas to society. It's meant to be informative in regards to a historical event. You can cry all you want about BBC or CNN but journalistic code and integrity is ensuring all sources are correct. Imagine not being able to write about any history because one "wasn't there". If you feel a fact is wrong, correct it. Also, it's spelled outbreak. Jesus Christ.

          October 16, 2021 5:47 pm
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