Thursday, May 4

Kent State Remembered


Well, if this doesn't paint Blue Gal as an aging hippie, nothing will.

Today is the 36th anniversary of the anti-war protests at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. For those of you under 40, Wikipedia has the history recap here.

Damn, even Garrison Keillor forgot.

But the Boston Globe (loveable commies) did not.

I did not forget either. I was there.

Not on campus, I was in first grade. In Kent, Ohio. My father and my mother's father were both faculty members at Kent. By 1970 my grandfather had retired from the Math Department. When he retired in 1968 he was the only math professor on record as opposing the War in Vietnam.

My dad, on the other hand, was in the Art Department. Nuff said.

We were rushed home from school that day in a panic of police sirens, smoke, and simply not knowing what was happening.

When I got home, my mother had the front door locked for the first time in my life. "Mommy, what is happening?" "I don't know, dear." Another first.

But she had the TV on and Walter Cronkite was talking about Kent. That was exciting to my six-year-old heart. I didn't see the consequences, had no idea what death was, let alone that four college students had been shot to death that day in my hometown. Their only crime was protesting their government's illegal, unilateral invasion of Cambodia.

What? In 1970 our military invaded another country based on lies and innuendo? Yer kidding!

Oh, sorry. Back to the story...

My two younger sisters were in their pajamas in the middle of the afternoon because my mother thought there might be an evacuation and getting the girls in their pajamas was something she "could do." They were playing making a tent with a blanket and the dining room chairs.

They do not remember that day, because it was just another day to play and make a tent.

I remember a few days later Kent was really, truly, on that proverbial "cover of Newsweek." I said to my dad:

"Daddy, before no one ever heard of Kent. Now no one will ever forget."

He gave my mother an "out of the mouth of babes" look.

But have we forgotten? The Kent State calendar notes Remembrance Day means no classes from noon to two, and a peace march today from 2-3 (bring your dog unless you've got a 2:00 class, it's still on). AND you can follow that with Karaoke at the Rathskeller at 8:30!

That Boston Globe article makes it clear: as the late, great, Lew Alquist always said, "What goes around, comes around."


  1. I remember, too, having been slightly older than Blue Gal and living nearby.

    Republicans do love violence.

  2. Kent, Ohio is a nice place...I was there back at the end of '02 on tour with my band. It's definitely still got a defiant air to it--the place is very different from the rest of Ohio. I think there is a remnant of the radicalism that once caused US troops to kill innocent protesters in everyone in the town. Good music scene there too, lots of people go out and create their own forms of entertainment. Dissenter culture, Midwestern style.

    We stayed with a band called Kill the their place they had an awesome show poster that used the Oswald shooting as its template. A guitar was stuck in Jack Ruby's hands, a microphone in front of the screaming Oswald, and a rather complicated keyboard stand in front of the Dallas cop who was trying his best to look surprised.

    Obviously a Kent OH band that calls itself Kill the Hippies is aware of their hometown's dark past.

  3. I was twelve years old. My dad, the Nixon Republican, said to me that that was the day America changed. Things would never be the same after that. "When we start killing our own kids, you know something's really wrong." He was FOR the war, remember. But he knew the truth after that day, I think.

  4. Thanks guys. All of you added something important to the conversation. I think it was a turning point for a lot of people because it was the midwest, these kids were clean cut and white, college students, etc. etc. They were not rioting in the streets. It was hard to see the students as a threat.

    I recommend going to Google blog search and looking up Kent State today. There's some good blogging out there today re the Boston Globe article. Thanks.

  5. i mentioned it yesterday and put a link up to a good site. i was 18, oh i do remember.

  6. I was 11 years old then. I remember getting chills. That was the day I lost my blind trust of our government. One of the many reason's I don't trust our government with such gems as the Patriot Act.

  7. I was eleven too, and just becoming politically aware - my sister, 7 years older and my dad, an art professor, were hippies and definitely involved in the peace movement. I remember the picture of the daisy in the rifle - as much as I remember the picture of the screaming, pointing co-ed.

  8. (I'm paraphrasing here)

    When Hitler was setting out the details of the Final Solution, one of his commanders pulled him aside and stated that what he was doing was too much like the Armenian Genocide of the First World War.

    "This has been done before! You can't do this! People will speak out against you!"

    Hitler responded, callously,

    "Who remembers twenty years ago?"

  9. I grew up around there, too. "Kill the hippies" was the sentiment, and it made me head to the library to study up on Canada.


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