The Unknown Rebel from Tiananmen Square

The Unknown Rebel from Tiananmen Square

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The Unknown Rebel from Tiananmen Square

It's hard to sit down and write about one great leader alone, there are many great ones out there who need to be mentioned. Although, if you were to go back and ask anyone of them if they would care to have a paper written about them, I can almost rest assure that they would decline. That single act is what makes a great leader. They're not out to seek fame, they're not out to take all the credit. They're there to make a difference, and most of the time they do. Sometimes we may not notice right away, but soon enough it will show.
But what do we do if we have no name to put with an image of a leader? What if there is no way to identify someone who helped turn the tides of revolution? Let's look now at the Unknown Rebel from Tiananmen Square, if you're not familiar with him let me give you a brief synopsis of the event. It's 1989; students, labor activists, and many people from the People's Republic of China were protesting the Chinese Communist Party. They had numerous problems with the government some with minor criticisms, while some even wanted full fledged democracy from the communist ruled government. Most of the demonstrating took place near Tiananmen Square, during these demonstrations many protestors were wounded or killed. The actual death toll to this day remains unclear, it ranges anywhere from 200 to 3,000 or more.
The incident took place in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government ordered a crackdown on the protestors, and with the majority of them located in the square, they government felt it was necessary to mobilize forces to that area. As tanks were coming down Chang'an Avenue on June 5, 1989, a lone man walked out and stood in the road as the tanks approached. As they neared they tried to go around the man, but he would step in their way yet again. He was seen waving his hands at the tanks, he even crawled up onto one and to this day it's still unclear as to what he said to the driver. But many speculate that it was something along the lines of "Why are you here?" and "Stop killing my people, go away." Soon after he climbed up onto the tank, he was pulled into the crowd and the tanks passed.

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To many this could be viewed as just another protestor trying to cause problems. But I see it as a great act of defiance to a government that has oppressed its people. The courage that it took to walk out against such massive machinery, knowing good and well that it could very well be your last day on this earth, in my opinion is inspiring. He took courage to a whole new level, becoming a world hero of sorts.
This ordinary everyday man stood up to the largest of armies, and showed that he was tired of what they were doing. This form of leadership is hard to explain, despite all odds he stood there. This situation could happen to anyone in regular everyday life as well, hopefully just not the extent portrayed in the picture. The Tiananmen Square photograph should be viewed as a great inspiration to leaders. It could be looked at as one person merely standing up to the problem. Leaders often times are faced with very difficult problems. Some may even appear to be too large to handle. But that should not stop you from doing your best to solve them.
We may never truly know what the Tiananmen Square rebel was thinking, or why he went and stood out in the street. He may very well have been crazy, we don't know. Little record of him exists to this day. What the Associated Press captured that day was brilliant though, the photographer probably had little idea the impact his photo would make on the world. Just as the Rebel probably stood out in the road with little idea as to the impact he would have on everyone who would ever come to see the photograph. They didn't know that they would inspire millions of people; the Rebel probably didn't know that his tank stopping stance would forever be immortalized for people to see. They didn't know any of this, but the photographer just happened to take the picture. The Rebel just decided to stand up for what he believed was right, he saw a problem and he did his best to act out and fix it, and he did it alone, and without any support.
Sometimes that's what we have to do as leaders; sometimes we have to do what we know deep down is right, against what all others are saying. It takes courage to do that, especially when you do it alone. If change comes about, you may be forgotten. You may very well have been the first piece of an intricate puzzle of change, and no one will remember you. It's often not how some of us would picture it, all the work then no thank you whatsoever, but a true leader would not let that bother him or her. They would look back, and know that what they did was for the good of the cause, and that should be all that really matters after all. Sometimes you have the spotlight, other times you must go at it and expect to be nameless like that of the Unknown Rebel.

Bibliography

Ayer, Pico. "The Unknown Rebel." Time 18 Apr. 1998.
Franklin, Stuart. "Tank Man" Second Photograph. 1989. Beijing. Wikipedia. Magnum Photos. 27 Nov. 2007 .
Sudworth, John. "Photo the Bangladesh army cannot stand", The Times August 28, 2007. Accessed November 29th, 2007.

Widener, Jeff. "Tank Man" 1989. Beijing. Wikipedia. 25 Nov. 2007 .
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