Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, but if you visit Beijing there are no hints of commemoration. 

However, the memory is still fresh on the minds of those who lived through it.

Tiananmen Square

Lu Decheng lives a simple, modest life with his son and two other children in northeast Calgary, but it wasn't always that way. (CBC)

Lu Decheng lives with his three children in the northeast Calgary neighbourhood of Thorncliffe. The family lives a simple, modest life — but it's the freedom of this life he most cherishes. 

Lu was condemned to a different fate 25 years ago.  

"We threw eggs filled with ink at Mao ZeDong's portrait," he said through a translator.

His punishment was 16 years in jail. 

The protest was an attempt to create a strong voice that could unite and push the student protests into a bonafide democratic movement. It was really a chance of a lifetime.

"Can't say I don't think about it everyday, but I can't say I don't either," said Lu.

Thousands of stories

He was released in 2006 and fled to Canada shortly after. His story is just one of thousands out there. 

Lynda Dumais was on a school exchange program in Beijing when she heard the declaration of martial law across loudspeakers.

"The most exhilarating about this [was] being there to see all the people — what they wanted as changes in that society."

It did change, but not in the way they wanted.

"You can date from the fourth of June, 1989, a sharp re-evaluation of China by [the] Western [public]," said Gordon Houlden of the University of Alberta's China Institute.

"On the other hand, China has progressed immensely and in many ways China is now more open than it was 25 years ago."

Lu disagrees.

"I feel very sorry. Very sorry. Chinese people have completely missed the chance to understand the true meaning of this incident. The communist party has everyone spinning around." 

His only solace for the price he paid is a better future for his children.

"I plan to tell them every little detail. So they can see appreciate the freedom they have here."