So This Thing Happened …

Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming …

Posted on: May 5, 2017

Tried really hard not to write about this yet again, but ….

May 4, 1970. Forty-seven years ago today, I was a sophomore in high school, just beginning to think about colleges. Being an Ohio girl, the first school that caught my attention was Kent State. Not too far, state school, beautiful campus and a GREAT theatre department.

The early 70’s were turbulent times. Campus protests against the Vietnam War, a younger generation resisting the status quo more forcibly than ever in our history…. Five years after the Watts riots, a mere two years after the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther KIng. We were a county experiencing some pretty sharp growing pains.

Nevertheless, in our relatively easy middle class lives, we never imagined …

A couple of very intense days/nights around the town of Kent – including the burning of the ROTC building – all came to a tragic climax when a large portion of the National Guard soldiers called in to -well, I’m not sure what was expected of them – fired directly into the crowd of students on the green. Let me write that again: They fired directly into the crowd. Sixty-seven rounds in thirteen seconds.

The National Guard fire tear gas to disperse the crowd of studen

Nine were injured, four students were killed. None were armed.

Wounded Kent State student John Cleary is attended to by other s

Now here’s the thing …

I don’t believe in burning ROTC buildings (even though no one was ever charged), I don’t believe in violent protests.
But shooting into a crowd of people who were simply part of the same group (students) who may or may not have been responsible for violent protests? Uh, no. Don’t believe in that, either.

At least one of the students killed had been part of the non-armed, vocal protest. But others were simply walking by, or observing from a distance.

It was an ugly moment in our history, and certainly a moment to shock my friends and me into a new level of awareness. A person experiences many instances of “loss of innocence” during a lifetime, and this was one of ours.

So now, when I hear that police officers have shot yet another unarmed “person of color,” my point of reference isn’t black and white. It’s knowing what happens when an individual’s bias against a particular group (black? immigrants? students? those against what I believe?) stirs up unwarranted fear towards others and a deadly knee jerk reaction takes place, simply because of that bias. Lives are lost. That’s what happens.

And apparently, we haven’t figured that out yet.

Please don’t respond with political stuff. This is a highly personal issue for me and frankly – whether you agree or disagree with me is fine. I simply had a need to tell you what May 4 will always mean to me. Thank you for reading.

“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

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