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20th anniversary of "Tank Man"

Today, June 5 marks the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests which is largely symbolized by this photograph of an anonymous Chinese man standing firm against a line of advancing tanks. Four other photographers managed to capture this moment–photographs which had be smuggled out of China past the state security.

NPR sits down with one of the photographers, Jeff Widener (whose version seen above is one of the most widely reproduced photographs of that moment) to discuss how his life was changed by that image.

Widener: I even got to have breakfast with astronaut Buzz Aldrin in Honolulu a couple of years ago. I recall how I wanted to surprise him with a signed copy of “Tank Man”; he looked at it and then pulled from his pocket a signed postcard of himself on the moon. One of the few times I got topped.

Yesterday, another photographer Terril Jones shared with the New York Times a photograph he had never before published of the man taken from a street level angle.

You can see tank man in the left side of the photo in the far distance walking as the tanks advance from the right. This photograph is remarkable for the chaos in the foreground.

The question we all have when we see these images is the question that Widener says is the one he gets asked the most. The answer: no one knows.