20 Years from Tiananmen

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20 years ago today, a number of people we'll probably never know (with estimates ranging from 10,000 to the official Chinese government figure of 241) were massaccred by their goverment in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Their crime was protest. They were patriots. And today, I mourn for them.

And when I think of them, I think of this song (pardon my old school hippy call-out):

It Could Have Been Me

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can work for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can work for freedom, I can too

Students in Ohio, at Kent and Jackson State
Shot down by a nameless fire one early day in May
Some people cried out angry
You should have shot more of them down
But you can't bury youth my friend
Youth grows the whole world 'round

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can die for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can die for freedom, I can too

The junta broke the fingers on Victor Jara's hands
And said to the gentle poet, "play your guitar now if you can"
Victor started singing, until they brought his body down
You can kill a man, but not a song
When it's sung the whole world 'round

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can sing for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can sing for freedom, I can too

A woman in a jungle, so many wars away
Studies late into the the night
Defends a village in the day
Although her skin is golden, like mine will never be
Her song is heard and I know the words
And I'll sing them until she's free

It could have been me, but instead it was you
So I'll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were two
I'll be a student of life, a singer of song
A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs
It could have been me, but instead it was you
And it may be me dear sister and brothers
Before we are through
But if you can live for freedom
Freedom, freedom, freedom
If you can live for freedom, I can too

-Holly Near, 1974

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