45 years and 15 minutes ago, a tragedy occurred in the midst of an ugly war. It was a time when history was hardly on stun mode. Viet Nam was raging on and increasing numbers of young people were being sent off to die, be wounded, or be returned with a lifetime of lingering PTSD. Some burned their draft cards. Others fled to Canada. Ah the sweet trappings of war.
In 1970, President Nixon broke a promise and expanded into Cambodia. Those of us who remember when have varying thoughts of who and how such a hideous thing could have been endured. It wasn’t. College students and youth everywhere started protest movements. They gathered, demonstrated, shouted protests and marched with signs. Some of it was peaceful. Some of it was angry. Some of it was volatile
On May 4, 1970, things escalated on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio. It wasn’t the only protest but it was one that left its own own bloody aftermath. The National Guard was called in. Kids had gathered and radically demonstrated over the weekend and were now forming a protest at the Commons. Other kids were innocently walking past on their way to class. Some kids were warned away. Oh, and need I remind us? Some of those kids were members of the National Guard. Those on the common at noon witnessed the dying of a dream. America the land of the free. The flag of the First Amendment was flying half mast.
In thirteen seconds, there were 67 gun shots, 4 students died and many were wounded. To quote someone who was there at the time: “It was frightened kids shooting at other frightened kids”.
Others just might remember it differently. Hate letters emerged calling the demonstrators “communist hippy radicals”. .War supporters were inflamed at the messy protests of the younger reckless generation. After all, we were in a war and needed to support our country.
Four were dying on the ground. Others lay wounded. An entire country watched on the nightly news in horror.
Generation gaps aside, I agree with Alan Confora who survived that day. “When the young people of this country move, things change.” Will they or will we stop remembering?
An aging hippie radical who I am proud to know, said to me: “History doesn’t repeat itself. People repeat history.”
And so I bow my head and remember:
Alison Krause, Sandra Scheuer, William Schroeder and Jeffry Miller. Sandra and William were on their way to class. Alison and Jeffry were demonstrating. They were the poster children caught in the crossfire of an insane and unjustified act of violence.
Watch the You Tube: 67 Shots that Pierce a Nation:” YOU HAVE THE TIME.
We remember lest we forget.