Thursday, May 4, 2017

May 4th Report

Every year when I can, I travel to Kent, Ohio USA for the May 4, 1970 commemorations.  For those of you unfamiliar with the event, basically the military occupied a college campus and shot and killed some students during a protest against the Vietnam War.  It's a bizarre tale, best told by James Michener in his book about the incident (not the most factual of the Kent State books but the one that is best written).  This year was a rainy day, so instead of the commemoration being held outside, it was held inside at the student center.  It was the usual gathering of old hippies and curious students.  The speeches were well-meaning and boring, but that's ok, as the point of remembering the event is to put pressure, however small, on authority figures not to repeat it.  The students killed that day would be retiring from the careers they never had and probably be grandparents.  Instead, they were killed, some just walking by and having nothing to do with the protest.  You can see pictures of the four students who were killed above (I like how Jeff Miller's cleancut picture from high school has been taped over with his rock and roll drummer picture, which is closer to how he looked when he died).  Other students were shot as well; one was paralyzed.  It was as if the senselessness of the Vietnam War (or, as the Vietnamese call it, the American War) came to the homeland for a day.  It's sad how much life was stolen that day.  People should stop shooting people.

So not as good a commemoration when it's outside and the daffodils are blooming on the hill.  The last one I went to, which had Dick Gregory as a speaker, was much better.  Kent the city seems to be growing more corporate with every visit; it also looks as if the university is eating the town.  It extends much further into downtown than it used to with the result that downtown Kent feels a bit more like a fake town shopping mall than a real downtown.   It isn't all bad though.  I parked on one of the old streets I used to live in and walked to campus.  The city has made a nice walkway along the river, and even if Starbucks has replaced the grungy coffee shop called Brady's Cafe, the town still has its charming quirks such as the sign I saw advising dogs to make sure their owners were attached to the leash.

Now if the citizens of this country could keep powermad politicians on their leashes stuff like May 4, 1970 wouldn't happen.

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