Kent State.....

Dateline: Wed 03 Mar 2010

A friend sent this a week ago:

"On Tuesday, (Feb. 22) the National Register of Historic Places added the site of the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University in Ohio to its official list of places worthy of preservation.

"Nearly 40 years ago, as students protested the Vietnam War and President Nixon's incursion into Cambodia, members of the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four Kent State students and wounded nine others.

"Laura Davis was a freshman at the time.

".....she said she remembers every detail of the May 4 protest that attracted between 2,000 and 3,000 students and bystanders -- how guardsmen fired tear gas into the crowd but students would not disperse.

"'Guards were then told to show force -- to kneel and aim at demonstrators in a parking lot,' she said. 'I saw guardsman begin to fire. I was about 300 feet away. I curled over as if to assume a fetal position, and I started screaming, 'They're shooting their guns! They're shooing their guns!' A friend pulled me into a nearby building -- and someone came in as said they heard people had been shot.'

"Davis never really left Kent State. She is an English professor and one of four faculty members who wrote the submission to the National Register to designate the 17.4 acres of the Kent State shootings site.

"She said, 'An American force opened fired on unarmed students without warning, because they were dissenting. That's an important event for people to know about.'"

What do you recall about that day?

People toss around the word "polarizing" to refer to contempoaray politics, but what I remember is how horrified many of us were, yet others -- including contempoaries -- believed that the students got what they had coming to them. "They had no business being there," was the illogical and horrifying condemnation.

I'm also struck by how wars are so muh part of us, our backdrop (or our center stage). Despite all the 1960s and 70s protests and a generation that turned its back on war, seemingly forever, here we are, at war again...and again...and again.

If you want to read a chilling analysis of our human condition, please check out Jon Krakauer's amazing non-fiction account of "the odyssey of Pat Tillman," titled, "WHERE MEN WIN GLORY."

Pat, the NFL football star, had a lot of hippie in him -- yes he did -- but the idealist and non-conformist part of his personality persuaded him that enlisting in the Army was the "right" thing to do after 9/11. His subsequent disappointment in the military experience is well-documented, based on his own journals and interviews with his widow Marie Tillman. And of course, we all know how it ended: death by friendly fire.

Krauker begins with a line from Homer: "Who among mortal men are you, good friend? Since never before have I seen you in the fighting where men win glory, yet now you have come striding far out in the front of all others in your great heart...." From "The Illiad."

The book will break your great heart. But it really is a must-read.

And never forget....

 

Comments

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I was in high school. Small northern Indiana town. my social studies teacher was a flaming liberal, and oft ran afoul of administration. He was a vet with a brother in Viet Nam and a first cousin killed there. Raw stuff.

On the day after Kent State, he began a series of lectures on why the war was wrong. Two days later, he was fired.

Two other blossoming hippies and I began a word-of-mouth walkout. I was called into the principal's office. Threatened within an inch of my life. The principal (always supposed to be your PAL, remember?) was, in the word of Lou Henson, a "classic bully." Ex-Marine, drill sergeant-type, and we were bound to clash over something. So, I modified.

Instead of walking out, over 100 of us were "ill" the next day. And I hadn't missed a day of school all year. That same day we were "sick," something moved the female teachers to defy the tyrant: a dress code demanded they were dresses or skirts. They all wore pantsuits. Their dress code was dropped. The principal hated me for the rest of my high school years.

Wanna know the fun part? Karma is a bear. Later in life, i got elected to an area school board. Guess who the Superintendent was? Yep, my high school principal.
He was still a former Marine tyrant, and now, I was one of his bosses. I hoped he'd changed. Alas, no one had ever challenged him very hard, so he had grown more bold and tyrannical.

I was a gentleman about it. I didn't act out of revenge, but this guy had pushed folks around his whole life. For sport. It took three years. But he decided to find another job.

I still think about my former teacher, who taught me, among other things: there is always a way to voice dissent.




2010-03-04 04:44:23

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"a former Marine tyrant"

You mind editing this to just read "tyrant," T3.

My son, a Marine officer with a highly developed sense of humor, is enoying a tour of Godforsakenstan. On his behalf, I object to this stereotyping.

And there's no such thing as "a former Marine." Once a Marine always a Marine. As Ruthie can attest.

2010-03-04 07:39:08

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Point made, Tom. I do know for a fact that this man and the Marines had a mutual agreement about their swift separation.

His style was militaristic except it wasn't precise. It was heavy.

How's that?

Or I could observe that our current mayor and Ollie North are both Marines.

Not all Marines are built for leadership. No organization bats 100%. But my Marine admiration runs deep, and your observation hit home. Thanks.

2010-03-04 11:24:46

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"Or I could observe that our current mayor and Ollie North are both Marines"

I didn't say they all do credit to the Corps, T. Just as your former teacher didn't. They were wankers before they earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

Your gracious apology accepted.

2010-03-04 20:32:16

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I made a pact with myself that I would quit posting here because I think I'm a bit of a fish out of water in these conversations (for a variety of reasons). I see things in life simply. I write simply - and sometimes rather passionately.

But I am breaking that pact temporarily because of the Kent State posting. I have a friend who was one of the injured students.

After my family and I visited Kent a few years, my friend began to educate me about what really happened there.

At the time (1970) I was a young hippie anti-war protestor and I remember thinking to myself, "My God, Nixon's going to end up shooting me, too!"

News reports (and errant history) constructed a mythology about Kent State.

Students were purported to be posing an immediate danger to the Guardsmen - not true. They were unarmed (except for some rocks) and were shot essentially by a "firing squad" action of Guardsmen.

Students were charging upon the Guardsmen "in their faces." Not true.
Most were hundreds of feet away.

Students were armed with guns. Not true. Some threw stones, but that was about the extent of it.

All of the students killed (four) were wild-eyed, violent "agitators". Not true. Only two of the killed students had been actively involved in the anti-war protests at Kent. One of the two killed was an ROTC student and another was an "a-political" coed on her way to a speech therapy class.

The 40th annual observance of the Kent State massacre is May 4, 2010. I hope my health is good enough then that my wife and I can go.

This was a dark chapter in American history. As one website describes it: "the day America killed its children."

2010-03-05 15:10:36

hendy [Member] said:

There will never be peace until mothers teach sons not to fight the wars of their grandfathers.

The clashes over the Vietnam war were about many things, but Kent State polarized them, and gave them a face of a young woman, tears in her eyes kneeling beside the body of someone that was a real hero in that war.

And there were Marines that were heros in that war, too. They were in an untenable position to fight an 'enemy'. It started with Jack Kennedy, and Nixon just took it to looney tunes stage with Spiro Agnew...... and a few decades later, Geo Bush Jr did it again with his henchman, Dick Cheney and their evil chief of staff, Karl Rove. It took decades to recover from Vietnam, and it will take decades to recover from the malevolence of the Iraq war and our little soiree in Afghanistan.

You see, all three wars were lost, at a hideous cost of life and property and a burden on future generations. We need to identify the sociopathic leaders that take us to these wars and stop them. I can't tell you one piece of justice that has come from any of the three wars, save ending Saddam Hussein's murderous regime. Where is Bin Laden? Where are the WMD? It was all BS about oil, friends. Enjoy that the next time you fill up. Ignore the bodies and unbelievable amount of money burned by the train car loads. Yeah, a few improvements have been made in society in each of the three war zones. Improvements next to the cemeteries.

2010-03-05 15:15:34

Marycatherine Barton [unverified] said:

WAR IS A RACKET, wrote General Smedley Butler, in the 30's. Thank you for here remembering the murdered Pat Tillman, and four Kent State protesters, Ms. Holloway. I still remember how forlorn I felt on the date I learned about both incidents.

2010-03-07 21:25:43

whosear [Member] said:

Murdered Pat Tillman. Reveal the names of those artilliarymen who purposely targeting the valient Tillman, and we shall petition our government to bring the villians to trial. Oh wait, he was hit by friendly fire...

So who are the murders? Please don't take the word lightly.

2010-03-13 14:07:48

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