Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Kent State retrospectives

(If the video doesn't play, you can find it at National Geographic's Death At Kent State site.



The Cleveland Plain Dealer has plenty of them at its Kent State Shootings 40th Anniversary page.

The Kent State killings were a big event in the symbolic "culture war." Novelist James Michener did a non-fiction account of the killings, Kent State: What Happened and Why (1971). He gave this grim account of one woman in the area, a parent of Kent State students, who his researchers interviewed. To fully appreciate this, you have to keep in mind that the National Guard fired randomly at students on the campus; most of those shot were walking to class or otherwise going about their daily lives:

But no case of parental rejection equals that of a family living in a small town near the Kentucky border with three good-looking, well-behaved, moderate sons at the university. Without any record of participation in protest, the boys found themselves inadvertently involved at the vortex: the middle son ended up standing beside one of the students who was shot (at a great distance from the firing); the youngest was arrested for trespass and his picture appeared in the hometown paper, to the embarrassment of his family. When the family spoke to one of our researchers, the conversation was so startling that more than usual care was taken to get it exactly as delivered.


Mother: Anyone who appears on the streets of a city like Kent with long hair, dirty clothes or barefooted deserves to be shot.

Researcher: Have I your permission to quote that?

Mother: You sure do. It would have been better if the Guard had shot the whole lot of them that morning.

Researcher: But you had three sons there.

Mother: If they didn't do what the Guards told them, they should have been mowed down.

Professor of Psychology (listening in): Is long hair a justification for shooting someone?

Mother: Yes. We have got to clean up this nation. And we'll start with the long-hairs.

Professor: Would you permit one of your sons to be shot simply because he went barefooted? Mother: Yes.

Professor: Where do you get such ideas? Mother: I teach at the local high school.

Professor: You mean you are teaching your students such things?

Mother: Yes. I teach them the truth. That the lazy, the dirty, the ones you see walking the streets and doing nothing ought all to be shot.
I've often wondered what Thanksgiving dinners were like at their house. That's really pretty twisted.

Kent State May 4, 1970This report by Bob Jones for WEWS Newsnet5 (Akron) reports on how the University is officially commemorating this sad anniversary: Kent State dedicates May 4th walking tour 05/03/10:

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Monday to mark two major milestones related to the May 4, 1970 campus shootings that killed four Kent State University students and wounded nine others.

The university dedicated a walking tour. Visitors can read seven markers and use their cell phones to listen to a narration describing the the tragic events of that day.

The university also unveiled a plaque recognizing the site on the National Register of Historic Places.
That site also has a 40th Anniversary of May 4 page.

Kent State University itself has webpages on the shooting: Kent State’s WKSU-FM Launches May 4, 1970, Audio Archive 04/29/10; KentState1970.org; Reflections on May 4th: Carole Barbato and Laura Davis; Kent State Presents Events Marking 40th Commemoration of May 4, 1970, Shootings.

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