35 Year Perspective of Kent State
On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen fired into a crowd of unarmed protestors at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine. Thirty-five years later, this monumental tragedy has become a blurb in history books- forgotten by many. However, now, more than ever, at a time when our nation is so divided on political and moral issues, it is crucial that we remember the horror of May 4th.
The years bridging the 60’s and 70’s were tumultuous politically and socially. Suddenly, young adults were defying tradition and questioning authority, something that the generation before them could not understand and, consequently, feared. College students across the country staged protests against US involvement in Vietnam. Their parents, who lived through WWII, could not relate to this “lack of patriotism.” The events of May 4, 1970 were, essentially, a result of the ignorance, fear, and hatred that had infiltrated the minds of people throughout the nation. This is demonstrated not only through the needless deaths, but more importantly through the reactions of the nation to these losses. One of the most chilling aspects of the massacre at Kent State is the lack of empathy from the rest of the country. Suddenly, a divergent viewpoint and long-hair justified murder.
Three and a half decades later we find ourselves in another nationally divisive time. Freedom of speech is once again taking full reign, as people such as Michael Moore openly criticize our government. College students throughout the US are receiving educations that allow them to express their opinions freely and intelligently. These students are not unlike those of 1970. This is why it is so essential that we remember the shootings at Kent State- an event that could have and should have been prevented. We must remember that even in a democratic nation, horrific things can happen. Alison Krause, Sandy Scheouer, Bill Schroeder, and Jeff Miller believed they were safe, yet they were killed on the ground of their college in the heartland of America. Students, young adults, Americans- killed because of fear, ignorance, and hatred. It is imperative that we remember and learn from the event that stole their lives, so that such a tragedy will never again take place in the “land of the free, home of the brave.”