Yesterday was the anniversary of the massacre at Tienanmen Square in 1989. I remember hearing about it then, of course, and I saw the iconic photo of Tank Man. But I had no idea the scope of the situation. I was a self-centered young adult who had never been to China and didn't really know many Chinese people.
Little did I know I'd travel to that exact spot three years later. I was with an American tour group (pretty much the only way to get there in those days). We had been told to bring balloons because the people went apeshit for them. They did, and not just the kids. I watched grownups knocking kids aside to play with the balloons. Something that I had taken for granted at every birthday party since I was a small child. It made me grasp a little of the chasm between my culture and theirs.
Anyway, one of my fellow tourists knew how to make balloon animals. HOLY SHIT!! We almost started an international incident in Tienanmen Square. They had cameras mounted everywhere and apparently armed guards all around. A crowd of amazed, happy people started forming around the three of us. Because balloon animals, FFS. We were quickly dispersed by the guards who materialized out of nowhere and escorted immediately back to our bus. From beginning to end, it took maybe four minutes -- for the crowd to grow from one person until we were back on the bus. Again, I didn't really understand the gravity of the situation because I was just a self-centered dumbass.
The photo of Tank Man was amazing in and of itself, but the video is incredible. I don't recall ever having seen it before. He never even flinched! Most definitely a Badass Mofo! No wonder they had armed guards and cameras everywhere, after having such a horrific massacre just three years prior.