June 4 is the day we honor the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Tiananmen Square student leader and hero, Prof. Fang Lizhi, barely escaped with his life and holed up in the American Embassy in Beijing for nearly a year, until the U.S. government arranged his release and he was flown off to Britain and the U.S.
His plane stopped in Anchorage on the way to refuel. In 1995, I hosted him in Anchorage, where he gave a talk to the Alaska World Affairs Council.
As we were driving around town, I recalled how our own Wally Hickel, when he served as Secretary of the Interior, told President Nixon to listen to the anti- Vietnam War protestors.
And Nixon subsequently fired him and sent him back to Alaska.
So, I said to Professor Fang, “You know, you and our former governor Wally Hickel have something in common.” He gave me a quizzical look, and I replied, “You both told the leader of your country to listen to the young protestors, and you both ended up on a plane to Anchorage.” Professor Fang understood, and he laughed.
— William M. Cox
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