Friday, May 4

Kent State, so far and yet so close...

Image from here.

I posted my personal recollections of Kent State last year.

I was in first grade, lived in Kent, the daughter and granddaughter of Kent State Faculty.

Timely revelations this year, though, about the order to fire being heard on some ancient reel-to-reel tapes that just so happen to be revealed just in time for the anniversary. Those of us who remember Kent State first hand feel the "order to fire" did not come from some young ROTC commander guy. The order came from Governor Rhodes, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, and a war that was going horribly wrong, a public that was waking up incredibly quickly, and an administration whose reaction was not only to stay the course but to dig in their heels and question the patriotism of anyone who did not go along.

We do not need Tom Hayden to tell us that there is an "Iraq-Vietnam Link." The "Vietnamization" of this war has happened before our eyes.


  1. Here's one link that ISN'T there, and maybe someone who spends any time on a college campus these days can tell me if I'm wrong:

    Where are the anti-war protesters today, campus-wise? Last time I was on campus, all I saw were Army recruiters giving out keychains, water bottles, and tickets to become cannon fodder. And no table set up next to theirs telling them to get the hell OFF campus.

    Just askin'...

  2. Hey BG,

    I'm glad you did this post today. Thank you ... I remember!

  3. Thanks, BG. I remember.

    Where are the protesters today? A very good question. I hate to say it, but college students aren't being drafted so it doesn't concern them. And if you get all your news from mainstream media sources, you might assume that EVERYTHING IS FINE.

    BG and QD ... you should really try to find the documentary The War At Home (NetFlix probably has it.) It's about the protests in my hometown, and is very moving and inspiring. If you can't find it, I'll send you a copy!

  4. Anonymous4:53 PM

    With a (very political) daughter in college and another going in September, that video hurt. A lot.

    The same group who controlled the military at that time controls it now, but they have many more tools at their disposal now, thanks to the "Patriot Act," and much more to lose if We The People stand up to them.

    It would be heart breaking but not surprising to see another incident like Kent State in the present political climate. There's just too much hatred being preached.

  5. I remember this terrible, terrible day. It was during the last week of my senior year in High School. The entire school was literally stunned into tears.

  6. My late father, the Korean War-era vet, supported the war in Vietnam to the bitter end.

    But I remember this day vividly, mostly because, after we'd watched the coverage on the news, he said something about how he knew we were going to lose that war because "now we are killing our own kids over it."

    That's always stuck with me.

  7. I'm the same age as some of the victims of this tragedy, and identify with them to some degree. Even 47 years later I can't think of this without tears and rage. Still, I think I'm with QD in reserving some of my anger for those who are not protesting the Bu$hCo&#153 regime's crimes, which are even worse than Nixon's.

    People of my generation were not cowed into submission by these murders. Au contraire:

    "There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, high schools, and even middle schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of eight million students, and the event further divided the country along political lines." (Wikipedia)

  8. I keep thinking about this: I assume that the order to fire on the Kent State protesters, coming from the top, was intended to terrorize young people into ceasing their protests. Instead it had the opposite effect of uniting the American public against the war.

    Conversely, later in the summer of 1970, 4 students detonated a bomb at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, destroying a building that contained the Army Math Research Center, in protest of the war. Tragically, the explosion killed an innocent graduate student who was working late in his lab. This act, intended to galvanize the Left, actually turned public sentiment away from college anti-war protesters.

    If I had to look for the common lesson in both these events, it is - predictably for me - that resorting to violence has unforeseen consequences. Neither one produced the desired outcome.

    Forgive me for rambling. These thoughts were rattling around in my head this morning.

  9. Thanks all. And this is still rattling around in my head this morning, too. Mentioned in posts in other blogs is the fact that a lot of Americans felt that Kent State was overdue, that someone needed to "teach the hippies a lesson."

    We think we live in such polarized times. It's fascinating to think of what we've lost, what's changed, since the 1960's. We've forgotten that then, there was a significant chunk of the middle class that didn't have a college education. They had something called a "union job," which paid something called "a living wage," though lots took that for granted.

    And that generation wanted something better for their baby boomer kids, so they sent them to college. This is where a new generation, already used to being the center of the universe, all of a sudden learned about politics.

    What QD's dad said about "we finally started killing our own kids" is exactly right.

    Loss of innocence, fear of change, fear that your own child will be fundamentally different from you. Fear of lost power at a deeply personal level, all the way to a geopolitical one. And Kent and Jackson State on May 4 set all of those fears on fire.

    Great thread.

  10. One wonders what might have happened in L.A. the other day if those out-of-control cops had been issued real ammo instead of rubber bullets. That video reminded me of the TV footage I've been seeing. Peaceful protest. Tear gas. Angry men with guns...

    Wondering. And shuddering.

  11. i have a post up about it at my place. you know, allison krause's mom still lives here in pgh. it hit home.

  12. Anonymous12:34 AM

    Kent State--that was in the middle of my application to attend university--I began in September of that year--I've never forgotten--and I learned too about Jackson State


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