Monday, May 4, 2015

The Real & Sober May the 4th

Dear John,
It's the 4th of May again and cyberspace is humming about Star Wars Day - you know, "May the Fourth be with you." I am unmoved and unamused. May 4th is only about one thing to me.
Today I've been pondering the ways that Kent State changed our generation. It certainly confirmed the distrust of authority that we'd had since the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. As we said last year, it pulled our parents' generation into the anti-war movement. (Granted, Nixon helped.) I remember that it both frightened and angered college students everywhere. There was  a very real fear that troops would come after students on every campus. And it terrified our parents. I'd been brought up with the assumption that I would go to college, but that night my mother told me I wouldn't. I remember how shaken she was when we heard about the girl who was nowhere near the protest but was shot and killed as she walked to class. I didn't worry about that - I knew the fear would blow over and I'd go to college, and I was right.
So I did go to college. And I did get involved in protest marches, but my parents certainly were not aware of that. I carefully screened what I told them. I did what I thought was right and told them what would reassure them. They heard about the panty raids but not about the marches, about the dates and not the FBI investigations. I did shelter them. The worst thing that happened when they were in college was bunches of people stuffing themselves into phone booths. In our generation, it was assembling peacefully and lawfully then being killed by National Guard troops. There is a bit of difference here.
Well, that's enough retrospection for tonight. This is always a sad day for me. I think about the four who died, who would be in their 60s now. I think about the kids who watched them die. And I feel for the Guard troops who were in way over their heard. I also think about Ohio's governor, but not with kindness or sympathy. James Rhodes was to blame.
Here ends my annual need to commemorate the Kent State Massacre. Memory eternal.
Adore you for putting up with this every year,

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