April 15, 2005
We are taught that by ignoring history’s lessons, we are bound to repeat its mistakes. It seems that history has escaped us once again. The murders at Kent State should have taught us many things about our government and our people. Now its thirty five years later and still we blunder.
After reading the research of what actually occurred on that sunny May Day, it is brutally obvious that the deaths were a tragedy. The most horrifying aspect to explore was certain people’s reaction to it. Some actually believed that the students deserved to be shot. Some denied any guilt or wrongdoing. While others chose to bravely look at the atrocity and fight back. They fight to speak out, they fight to be heard and they fight to keep the memory alive.
Everyone knows that the government lies to the people sometimes. Everyone knows that “the system” isn’t perfect. The whole point of our Bill of Rights is so the people have a way of holding our officials accountable. Even our founding fathers knew their needed to be a system of checks and balances so corruption could be exposed and eliminated. Our first amendment rights are the oil in the gears of democracy. They are necessary and they are vital.
The real lesson that May 4th has taught me is one that hits very close to home. Growing into adulthood myself, I struggle with making choices that will affect the rest of my life. What do I want to do and what kind of person do I want to be? These are not easy questions to answer, but everyone must face them eventually. The Kent State students made the decision that they wanted to speak out. Their methods may have been crude, but nonetheless they wanted progress and change. The Guardsmen also had made a decision. For whatever reason, they chose whether or not to shoot that day. More importantly, they determined if Mrs. Schroeder would ever speak to her son again.
It’s astonishing to look at just how great human potential is. The spectrum of choices that we make everyday shapes our future and affects the people around us. We can decide to model ourselves after Gandhi or we can also choose to follow in the path of someone like Hitler. Polar opposites as they come, yet both have made an indelible impact on the world. Kent State is one of those events that forces us to make decisions about what kind of people we are. We must ask, will we allow ourselves to forget? Will we shelter our children and gloss over subjects like Vietnam and the Buffalo soldiers? When faced with distress we can make excuses for not doing what we know we should do. Or we can decide to brace ourselves and look at the past, realizing that through the pain, we just might learn to grow.