Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rant #497: Ohio Anniversary

Now that we can move on from the recent headlines, let's look back at a story that made news 41 years ago today.

Where were you when you heard that Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire during an anti-war protest at Kent State University, and killed four students?

I know this incident doesn't set off memories of "where was I?" like the JFK assassination does, but it still is one of the darkest days of the 1970s.

We were deep into a war in Vietnam, and it was becoming increasingly clear we could not win this conflict. Young men were being sacrificed daily, and the country was becoming more and more divided.

Young people thought that they had a voice, and protests around the country against the war were a daily occurrence.

And then we had Kent State. Students gathered there to protest our entrance into Cambodia, but little did they know that this protest would be etched into history.

Years later, it appears that the National Guardsmen may have lost their cool, and started shooting when the crowd that gathered for an anti-war protest became rowdy.

Bullets flew, and four students were killed.

The famous photo of a woman grieving over one of the dead bodies is a footnote to this incident. Evidently, she was not a student, but a prostitute who meandered over the the protests for whatever reason.

This incident supposedly mobilized Americans to protest the war. Schools around the country closed in a silent memorial to those who were slain.

However, polls taken around the country showed how fractured we really were. In those polls, more than 50 percent blamed the Kent State students for the incident.

Ironically, 10 days later, in a similar protest, two students were killed at Jackson State. You don't hear much about this one, except in the black community.

Now, here we are, 41 years later, and we are still involved in wars in distant lands. Young servicemembers are being sacrificed every day, just like they were in 1970.

Is it all worth it?

I don't have an answer, but all I can say is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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