Courage Boys features stories to inspire and leave you feeling hopeful. Making a difference is not only possible, but something we’re all capable of accomplishing. These are the stories of ordinary people making the decision to be extraordinary with bravery, resilience and principle. This is Courage Boys.
Nobody really wanted to see what happened last night, but as people go, everybody was looking. And when the haze lifted from Tiananmen Square in Beijing, there were no answers. Only more questions.
Because last night, a revolution died in this spot. Thousands of unarmed students were crying out for a free press, human rights, and government transparency.
Now, men in uniform, hunkered down, scrubbing the students' blood from the pavement, removing any signs of yesterday's incident.
The papier-mâché Statue of Liberty that the Chinese students built in the middle of the square had been crushed and wiped from the streets. A division of Type 59 tanks, Soviet model, rumbled down the Avenue of Eternal Peace, patrolling Tiananmen Square.
Thousands of people stared vacantly from the sidewalk, careful not to talk, not to make eye contact with anyone, or be noticed by an official.
Among those people, we find a hero. Not a physical specimen. In fact, he seemed to just blend in with everyone else. Blend in, that is, until he stepped forward. Out, into the street.
And in front of a rumbling tank. Humbly, he stood in front of the lead tank, the tank that didn't stop. And a man that didn't move.
He flung his right arm. His eyes said, "Turn back because I'm not leaving."
The army's orders from two days earlier still stood: Clear the square at all costs. Evidence of that cost was still splattered all over the pavement.
He was likely unaware that CNN and at least four still photographers were discreetly filming from hotel balconies above the street.
Epic imagery: A single skinny man squaring off against an army, a nation, a system of oppression. The tank kept rolling. 15 feet. 10 feet. About 5 feet from the man, the tank finally stopped. The line of tanks behind it forced to stop as well.
It maneuvered to its right to go around the man. But the man stepped sideways to block it. He never once stepped backward.
The tank stopped and redirected itself forward. It was coming toward the man. Again, 5 feet, 4 feet, 3 feet. At about 2 feet, the tank stopped and turned off its engine.
Our man then climbed on top of the tank. He spoke to the gunner who was on top.
He then banged on the hatch. The driver opened. Poked his head out. And spoke for a moment.
Nobody knows what was said. The man climbed down off the tank and the tanks restarted their engines. It appeared as though the man would return to the sidewalk. But no.
He pivoted and stepped right back in front of the tank. Our man would not yield.
Finally, a small group from the sidewalk walked out, grabbed the man, and walked to the other side of the street, where he disappeared.
Nobody knows his name. Press, governments, human rights agencies have all tried and failed to find this tank man. His image covered the front page of newspapers internationally by the very next week.
Later that fall, as Germans and Russians took hammers to the Berlin Wall, they talked about the tank man. People all over the world recognized the image of the tank man. All the world, that is, except for China.
You see, in China, Google allows the pictures and any words about the tank man to be censored. The tank man himself has disappeared as well. Nobody knows if he's dead or alive. But by stepping off the sidewalk that June 5th morning, he assured his immortality.
And so, Courage Boys. Because nobody has ever changed the world by staying on the sidewalk.