Every year, if I can swing it, I mosey down to Kent, Ohio USA for the May 4th Commemoration. Though the event is rapidly receding from living memory--the flower children whom I saw today would be more accurately described as flower elderly--it is important to remember what happened. And what happened was the government--one group of people--killing another group of people who disagreed with them. Underneath all the malarkey laid on top of the event, that's what it boils down to. The lesson to be learned is that we can disagree without killing one another. It was sad to read in The Daily Kent Stater that some of the shooting victims were retired or getting ready to retire and then think of the four dead who had all that life stolen from them. A couple of those students were just walking to class; they weren't even all protestors. One was even an ROTC student. Sadly, 45 years on, the world doesn't seem to have learned that lesson. Every week, a read of The Economist reveals that a Kent State happens every day pretty much somewhere in the world.
Other thoughts on the day:
*Keynote speaker Dick Gregory was inspiring if rambling. Nevertheless, I hope that I am that energetic at 83. He is good evidence that there might be something to his fruitarian diet.
*Kent continues to get more creepy and corporate. Downtown is starting to resemble one of those fake town outdoor shopping malls. It would look nice if I did not suspect quite a bit of taxpayer money was poured into erasing the funky soul of the town that I lived in many years ago. For example, the ramshackle Mantis Gallery that The GoGoBots played so many shows in is vacant (it had been a couple of other bohemian type things after the Mantis) and the building has a sign on it advertising that it will soon be shops, offices, and apartments. Town and gown have also demolished most of the old student ghetto and replaced it with an odd almost blockwide concrete walking path to downtown. It's pleasant enough but seems to be a sort of pointless use of that space (except for perhaps getting rid of cheap competition to the dorms). It has a poetry park next to it, which is nifty, but I noted the irony of a plaque with a poem about dandelions being in it, while the lawn looks chemically treated to keep the actual dandelions out (fortunately, the rest of the path between campus and downtown is more dandelion friendly).
*I finally got to visit the May 4 Visitors Center. It was nice. Last year, it was closed because May 4th was on a Sunday. One would think the university might have the budget to open it up on a Sunday once a decade or so.
*Somehow, the old hippie who wears the same jeans every year has managed to keep them going for another year. By this point, the jeans are mostly patches, but looking for his jeans is always a highlight of the visit. Long may his jeans and the spirit of May 4th live!
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