Traveling China: Tianmen Square

This afternoon we went to Tianmen Square. It is a huge open square that can hold about 500,000 people. Across the street you can see where the student protesters used sewer grates as lavatories. Approximately 3000 people were killed during the 1989 student protests. The blood ran so thick on the stone pavement that the government had to completely repave the area. The protests were over corruption, not over the government; they were satisfied with the government.

There are no markers commemorating the event. Mao's tomb sits in the middle of section of it, a large stone column that serves as a memorial to all those who died in fighting for China sits in the middle of another, a  soldier guarding it. Police and soldiers are everywhere. We went through two checkpoints to get in. While they did not bother us, allowing us to pass right through, Chinese citizens were searched, packages checked, identification required.

The square which used to be surrounded by government buildings sits between the first entrance to the Forbidden City and the Entrance Gate, a huge picture of Mao hangs from the Entrance Gate appearing to overlook the goings on in the square.

It is an impressive sight--As much for its size and memorials as for what is not there and commemorated.

Filed under: China

Tags: Tianmen Square

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also traveled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For 10 years my husband and traveled to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. I've joined a tour to Central Asia and traveled to China to work with the pandas. This year I'm on my way back to Europe--Inreland, England, and France--to present a paper at a Conference and then visit friends. A new adventure. Old friends. Another banquet.

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