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04 May 2005 @ 12:34 pm
What happened on May 4th, 1970? Mini history lesson for those not living in Kent...  
So, yeah. May 4th, 1970, four college students were shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard during a protest on campus that went very, very wrong. Nine other students were shot and wounded; one was paralyzed. Two of the students killed were participating in the protest, the other two were walking to class or observing. The shootings on May 4th were the culmination of several days of chaos that had resulted from Nixon's announcement of the invasion of Cambodia on April 30th. These events were followed by similar rioting, shooting, and killing at Jackson State University on May 14th, which left two dead and a number wounded under similar suspicious circumstances.

My mother went to Kent State in 1970, and on May 4th she had grabbed her library books as an excuse to be outside and walking past the protest. She was my age. When the shooting began, she ran into one of the dorms with several others. So, yes, she was there and she got shot at... there are a fair number of people still in or around Kent that can claim something similar.

The thing about May 4th is that the "always remember" adage has made it so that these events and the four deaths have been rehashed and memorialized to a disgusting extent. Jesus Christ, people, I have to live in this town. It's not a great town, but it's more than May 4th. It goes beyond the four kids who died. Do I hate that those people were killed and injured? Yeah, I do. Does it make me angry that it was by National Guardsmen, particularly since the National Guard were already accused of handling things incredibly poorly? Yup. And I've been to the memorial, I know where to find the bullet holes, I've picked the daffodils, I've even mocked the whole damn thing... because when you're so close to it, what else can you do?

Guess what? All the memorials and ornamentation in the world isn't going to change the fact that those four people died. It isn't even going to give closure; all you have to do is walk around Kent 35 years later and you'll see that there hasn't been any closure regarding May 4th. It's been kept open, festering, supperating. We keep bringing up the names of the dead; we never give them a chance to rest. We have not given ourselves the chance to move on. We're being haunted by these ghosts because we refuse to let them go. It isn't even about the people who died anymore; it's all been twisted into some sort of disgustingly political monster. Money and politics, not these four kids.

Always remember, but learn to mourn and let go. Otherwise you'll end up like Kent State, forever attempting to relive and undo May 4th... and always failing.
 
 
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「雫羅」 dara: Brooklyn (by birdcagelining)sashwizzled on May 4th, 2005 05:29 pm (UTC)
Yes yes yes - totally agree with you. I would add something to that, but you've said it so well that I really can't think of anything...
yeah, i live on the hellmouth.: Dibvichan on May 4th, 2005 08:50 pm (UTC)
Every year this day goes by, and I can never NOT notice it. When my father determined I was old enough (I think I was 5), he took me up to the hilltop and pointed out where the National Guard was standing, where he was standing, and where my mother was (she was in the direct line of fire).

He gave me one of the most memorable history lessons of my life, and the best lesson you can learn from crap like this - mourn them, be angry, but fucking learn from it. Yanno... "those that fail to learn history are those that are doomed to repeat it," blah, blah, etc.

Generally agree with you - the whole issue has been twisted. Let go of the past - just as long as it's not forgotten.