Twenty Years Ago Like Yesterday

While walking through Chinatown a couple of days ago, I had this intense flashback – suddenly I was back in Shanghai… in May 1989.

Memories just came flooding back, the smells, the sounds… the view along the Bund through the hazy air, heavy with thick smoke from the ships.

There were the banners, held high.

And the faces. Sweaty excitement in the faces of the young students, many of them looking like they were still in high school.

Bold, colorful characters put down with a heavy brush. White banners. Red characters, rippling in the wind.

The faces, so open, so happy with the sudden empowerment. Shouted slogans filling the air.

Crammed between other onlookers, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people on the old Garden Bridge. Marching students ahead, coal barges on the water behind. The steel girders of the bridge digging into my back.

So much applause, people clapping in the rhythm of the marchers. Arms raised, fingers pointing at banners.

The infectious excitement of the crowd. Waves of emotion passing through us like the wind through trees. Laughter, shouts, chants picked up by group after group of marchers.

Students. Workers. Teachers. So many faces.

Happy, excited faces.

Even if only for a brief moment,

Freedom.

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