May 4 –What a Day — Part One

May 4 –What a Day — Part One

A visit to Kent State University has been on my Bucket list for a long time. About 48 years, in fact. Two weeks ago, it finally happened, with the help of good friends Henry Bloom & Mar Malkin.

It was, at long last, a warm welcome spring day in northern Ohio. KSU students were taking advantage of it by hanging hammocks between the trees, as can be seen beyond the marker: lounging, reading, cuddling. Why not? Leave this sad history to the trickle of gawking geezers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was plenty for us to gawk at: a large, low granite memorial; signs pointing out where the National Guardsman fired down from this rise into a group of students, some protesting the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia, others just caught in the swirling crowd.

There was even a visitors center — closed the Sunday we were there; but that didn’t matter. I appreciated the photos on the outdoor markers, but the images from the day are imprinted on my memory anyway.

The daffodils are all over at home in Carolina, but were burgeoning here. The low memorial at the right was for the four students killed, Sandra Scheuer, Allison Krause, Stephen Schroeder, and Jeffrey Miller; but I couldn’t find their names on it. Only a couple of cryptic words chiseled on its base:

 

Okay. There was still plenty to reflect on. Such as what Allison Krause wrote, about finding “the human side of history.”

 

The “truth” about the Kent state killings is pretty well known. What’s still lacking here is justice.

 

And what’s going on at KSU in 2018? College as usual, for sure. But also some remembrance of other events contemporary with the shootings.

By the way, the video from the hillside confirmed the conclusion that some shrewd campus administrators in and after May 1970 were able to look beyond the bloodshed and see the institutional opportunities that Kent State’s worldwide fame opened up: the campus is huge, sprawling, crowded with gleaming new buildings, and elegant signs.

Henry Bloom, left, was a radical young doctor in Cleveland in May 1970. He’s still a doctor, and maintains a busy private practice for the Cleveland Research Clinic on Gastropunterology.

But enough about my bucket. This two-part post recalls two major events on May 4th. Only one happened here:

 

Chicago and Ohio.

May 4, 2018 is the 48th anniversary of the Kent State killings of four students by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war protest.

Kent state

This was a very major event for me. I could say a lot about this day and its aftermath, but this image does it better:

The music of the day also brings it all back. Read this part of a poem for Allison Krause, one of the victims, and listen to Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s “Four Dead In Ohio”:

allison-krause-kent-state-1970
Allison Krause, shot dead by National Guards troops at kent State University, May 4, 1970.
Kent-State-troops-1970
National Guard troops at Kent State University, Ohio, May 1970.

 

 From a poem (the full text is here) about Allison Krause, one of the victims:

Flowers & Bullets, by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
(English translation by Anthony Kahn)
Of course:
Bullets don’t like people
who love flowers,
They’re jealous ladies, bullets,
short on kindness.
Allison Krause, nineteen years old,
you’re dead
for loving flowers.

When, thin and open as the pulse
of conscience,
you put a flower in a rifle’s mouth
and said,
“Flowers are better than bullets,”
that
was pure hope speaking.

Give no flowers to a state
that outlaws truth;
such states reciprocate
with cynical, cruel gifts,
and your gift, Allison Krause,
was the bullet
that blasted the flower.

 

kent-state-victims-better

But don’t stop there. There’s much more on Kent State at this Wikipedia page. Look it over as you listen to the Buffalo Springfield and “For What It’s Worth”:

 

 

Kent-state-memorial-protest

And for those who are shocked that’s it’s been 48 years (you know who you are), there may be solace in recalling that The Man can’t stop our music. Let the Zimmers show you; then go on to the next post, May 4 Part Two:

 

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