IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN….KENT STATE, 2019

May 4th, 2019 marks the 49th anniversary of the Kent State killings, the only historical event I recognize each year on my blog.

I always try to find some unique angle and this year, I was inspired by Steven Rubio’s re-post of something he wrote in the late nineties addressing the significance of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. I encourage you to read the piece in full.

Reading it so close to a Kent anniversary, I immediately linked Maya Lin’s memorial to the Prentice Hall parking lot where Allison Krause, Jeff Miller, Bill Schroeder, and Sandy Scheuer were murdered on May 4th, 1970 in a way I hadn’t before. Not quite.

I’ve been all over this country. I’ve stood at the crest of Little Round Top and the base of Cemetery Ridge. I’ve crouched inside the trees at the Hornet’s Nest and walked the siege lines at Vicksburg. I’ve gazed across the bay at Yorktown where French ships bottled up Lord Cornwallis’s army. I’ve seen Stone Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Horseshoe Bend, Mt. McKinley, and the Grand Canyon as up close and personal as the law allows. I’ve hiked up Bunker Hill and knelt by “the rude bridge that arched the flood” on a cold, gray Christmas Eve. I’ve seen the Alamo and the Smithsonian, the Empire State Building, the Met, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the monument to George Washington in the nation’s capital and his stately home across the river. I’ve been to most of our great cities and visited every museum I could find from New York to North Dakota. I’ve spent time on Bourbon Street, Beale Street, Times Square. I’ve trotted around Wrigley and Fenway and the Rose Bowl and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

I’ve stood on a sand spit two miles from my house and watched the first rocket ship that carried men all the way to the surface of the moon lift off the pad.

Heck, I’ve even been to Disney World.

All that and a thousand more.

The only two places that stopped me cold, so cold I felt my spirit leave my body and wander away to gaze down on me from the top of a mountain my eyes couldn’t see, were this one…

..and this one.

I got my love of both history and travel from my father, who had registered as a Conscientious Objector after Pearl Harbor, had his status rejected by the draft board and spent the war fighting forest fires in the Appalachians and then the Rockies.

The second time I saw the Vietnam Memorial was in 1989 when I was on a driving trip with him a couple of years after my mother passed away. Dad had just retired from his post as a home missionary for the Southern Baptist Convention. We didn’t say anything and when we came to a stop in the middle of the “crease” (visible above) he remained there while I walked to the far end.

When I turned back, I saw a young man around my age (I was 28) leave the wall and walk straight through the crowd into Dad’s arms. I was just within earshot when I heard Dad ask him if the name he had been fingering was his brother? The kid nodded. Eventually, he was able to tell us he was from Atlanta and it was the first time he had been there. We chatted a minute or two and he thanked my dad and then walked slowly away. We stood there in the lengthening shadows thrown by the late afternoon sun and, after a decent interval, finally began walking back towards the car still not saying much.

When we reached the end of the memorial we stopped and my dad looked up and down the mall a couple of times as if he wanted to remember it, as if he knew it was the last time he would be there.

Then he looked back at the memorial itself and gave a little nod.

“Almost hidden,” he said. “Like that war.”

My body walked to the car. My soul watched from a distance, a feeling I never had again until 1998, the first time I stood in the Prentice Hall parking lot on a May 4th.

R.I.P. to the Kent State Four then. Again.

Nothing is settled.

ONE OF THESE DAYS….(May 4th, 2018)

…I really will get around to seeing if I can find my notes from my experiences of May 4th, 1998 on and around the campus of Kent State University (and my subsequent first trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–an experience that taught me to never take that institution lightly). The notes aren’t where they’re supposed to be…and it’s a big house…with a lot of boxes. I probably wrote ten thousand words at the time.

Might still be interesting.

But, I confess, Neil Young–not to mention a thousand pictures worth a thousand words apiece–probably still said it better….

Links to past years here…

I ain’t forgot.

KENT STATE….2017

Today is the 47th anniversary of the Kent State killings. For those new here, this is the only date I commemorate on the blog each year. That is a for a complex variety of reasons which I keep planning to lay out in detail some year but still haven’t gotten around to. If I ever do, it will come down to this: Lest we forget.

I won’t get around to it this year either. Time presses.

However, here are the links to previous years…and I especially recommend following the link to the lengthy article on the student photographers who took the iconic photographs (linked in the 2012 and 2013 editions below) which probably did more than anything to plant the event in the national consciousness (among other things, David Crosby showed one of those photos to Neal Young and Young went off into the woods and wrote a song based on the picture).

From 2012…

From 2013…

From 2014…

From 2015…

From 2016…

And, every year, I look for something new to post here. I was kind of stuck this year until yesterday, when, in browsing through the images available on the net, I happened across the photo at the bottom of this post….which led me to the three that precede it. In this year when it is clearer than ever that we never walked away from the divide that opened up over our leadership’s conduct of the Viet Nam war–that the breach has only grown deeper and wider–they say more than I ever could:

Here’s hoping we don’t hear the drumming in the long, hot summer that lies ahead.

MAY 4TH….44 YEARS ON

KENTSTATELIFE

 

KENTSTATECANTKILL

This is the only event I commemorate yearly on this blog. I have my reasons and maybe one of these years I’ll get around to writing about them. For now, I’ll let Mr. Young–who has also not forgotten, as evidenced by the date on this recording–have the floor. And, as ever, R.I.P: Jeff Miller, Allison Krause, Sandy Scheuer and Bill Schroeder.

(You can go to this date in the May 2012 and May 2013 archives at the right to link to the best article I’ve read on Kent State, which was published in a local NE Ohio paper in 2000 and can stand in for any number of books on the subject….Highly recommended for anyone who is new to the site in the last year and for anyone who may be laboring under the illusion that the shootings were somehow “justified.” Whatever the motivations of the actual shooters, they did not involve self-defense, any attempt to prevent damage or injury to life or property, or resistance to arrest. No amount of sound and fury coming from either the left or the right should be allowed to obscure this little inconvenient truth.)

For the emotional tenor of a Kent State memorial event, you can click on these two videos, which feature Allison Krause’s boyfriend, Barry Levine–by far the most accomplished speaker of those I’ve heard speak on behalf of the fallen. This is from 2010 and is pretty much the same speech he gave in 2000, on the 30th anniversary, where I was present but, alas, not in possession of a camera, video recording gadget, or the knowledge that YouTube would one day exist to preserve and disseminate such things. In one way this is better, though. In 2000, the sky wasn’t crying.