What Happened Thirty Years Ago?

June 8, 2019

The year 1989 was a big year for many reasons. You weren’t born yet, but your parents might recall some of the most significant events that happened around the world that year. Yes, thirty years ago, Taylor Swift was born (we love her too!), but there were other historic events that happened as well. There was a devastating earthquake that changed the landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area. NASA launched the Galileo spacecraft to learn more about Jupiter and its moons. East and West Germany were reunified and the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down. And in Beijing, China, millions of people gathered in Tiananmen Square—one of China’s most popular landmarks—to protest the communist government and fight for greater freedom of speech.

Tiananmen Square

At first, the government allowed the protests, but as the protests continued, the government took a hard stance and decided that restoring order was a must. On May 20th, 1989, the Chinese government declared martial law (that’s when the military takes over government functions) and troops began to enter Tiananmen Square. By early June, approximately a million protesters had gathered in the square. To restore order, the Chinese government rolled tanks into the square in the early hours of June 4th, and opened fire and crushed any protesters that got in their way. It was a defining moment in China’s history, and one that was played out for the world to see. This week marks the thirty-year anniversary of what some have dubbed the Tiananmen Square Massacre. No one knows for sure how many protesters died—the Chinese government said two hundred while others reported thousands—but the world remembers what the protesters were fighting for and how one government decided to respond.

What is a significant event that has happened during your life?