Kent State – May 4, 1970: Part One

May 4 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the Kent State killings of four students by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war protest.

Only two years ago, on a balmy spring Sunday, was I able to visit & pay respects at Kent State, with my good friend Henry Bloom, of Cleveland. The scene was tranquil and idyllic, but like a corner of the fields around Gettysburg, ringed with memorials and monuments. Here are some snapshots.

Henry, at left, is a somewhat retired physician, less retired this spring because of the pandemic.

 

Kent State was a very major event for me, though I was hundreds of miles away in Massachusetts.  I could say a lot about this day and its aftermath, but this tee shirt below does it better.

And the music of the day 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:

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.

But don’t stop here. 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”,  The song was a hit three years earlier, but still echoed on that day.

And for those who are shocked that’s it’s been 50 years (you know who you are), there’s solace in recalling that The Man can’t stop our music. Let the Zimmers show you. And if you have a burning recollection of that day, or its impact, share them with us in the Comments.

Then go on to the next post, May 4 Part Two:

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