“Nothing crushes freedom as substantially as a tank.” —Shirley Temple Black, Child Star and Diplomat

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”It wasn’t until the next day that my guide came back and told me: ‘You will not see Mr. Dubcek, and you will not leave from the airport today. We have been invaded.’ There were tears in her eyes.”

”I was hungry, and on the way up to the roof of the hotel to try to see what was happening, I took some of the leftover hard rolls from the breakfast trays people had put outside their rooms,” she said. ”I looked down and saw tanks all around the hotel, and their guns were pointing up.

”That night, after curfew, in the lobby looking out at the street, I saw a Czech middle-aged woman shaking her fist at the soldiers. She was shot in the stomach and went down. That was a bad sight.”

”Nothing crushes freedom as substantially as a tank,” she observed. She was here for the subdued anniversary observances, marked by quiet demonstrations by a few thousand people and the police arrests of 350 of them.

—Craig R. Whitney interviewing Shirley Temple Black, the then newly minted US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, about her experience in Prague in the late 1960′s (“Prague Journal; Shirley Temple Black Unpacks a Bag of Memories,” Sept. 11, 1989).

Photo: Boston Public Library, Flickr.

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Julia Wick is a native Angeleno who writes about literature, Los Angeles, and cities.