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Moment in Time: Courage of Tiananmen Square’s ‘Tank Man’

Image: A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989.
A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Changan Boulevard in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. JEFF WIDENER / AP file

June 5, 1989: A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Changan Boulevard in Tiananmen Square. The man was pulled aside after a stand-off and the tanks continued on their way.

Starting on June 4 of that year, China's government crushed a student-led protest for democratic reform and against government corruption, killing hundreds, or perhaps thousands of demonstrators.

Louisa Lim, author of a new book on the events that took place in Tiananmen Square, showed the iconic 'Tank Man' photo to 100 students at four Beijing universities and found that only 15 could correctly identify it.

The National Museum of China, itself located on Tiananmen Square, makes no mention of the crackdown in its exhibit on the country's modern history. "They try to eradicate the whole memory. They try to erase everything about June the 4th," one eyewitness to the events of 1989 told NBC News' Ian Williams.

Image: A convoy of cars drive across Beijing's Changan Blvd., near Tiananmen Square
Cars drive across Beijing's Changan Boulevard on May 27, 2014. Helene Franchineau / AP

25 years on, it was business as usual as thousands of tourists flocked to the square on Wednesday. The photo above, taken last month, shows the spot on Changan Boulevard where 'Tank Man' made his protest.