Surely you recognize this photo by now.
It is the hill near Taylor Hall where National Guardsmen, many not much older than the students down below, opened fire, killing four and wounding nine.
Here’s what I wrote two years ago on Remembering Kent State killings:
On Monday, May 4, 1970, at twenty minutes past noon, 28 National Guardsmen fired 61 shots into a crowd of college students on the hill above, leaving four dead and nine wounded. It lasted just 13 seconds.
This was something that didn’t happen in white, middle-class America and the incident made the front page of the New York Times (and papers across the world, of course) and became a turning point in the Vietnam War, a moment in time when politicians would later look back and say, “That was the day I knew we had to do something different.”
. . .
We’d become a nation divided over more than our conduct in Vietnam. We were terribly divided over what was “appropriate” in protesting the war, and what was the “proper” response to those protests. A chasm had grown within the United States: father against son; neighbor against neighbor.
It’s a chasm I feel again today. But I’ll leave that for a future post.
Well, today I have that post.
I remember the deep divide back then.
I remember the rumblings of “they should have shot them all.”
I remember the hatred; the venom was tangible.
I remember the demonization that went on. Each side having specific vile names for the other. Pig was a big one. Dirty, commie, hippie, made the rounds. Murderer, Nazi, were emblazoned on placards.
I remember large groups gathering in Washington DC to protest the war.
And I remember automobiles driving along with headlights on — a sign of support for what Nixon and his administration was doing in Vietnam.
America was divided in two back then, both sides believing in the justness of their position, both sides believing they were RIGHT and neither side talking to the other about it.
Families torn apart. Each side scared of the other. Each group pointing a finger, thinking if only they would change.
Sound familiar? Whatever shall we do?[box] LEAPFROG, my tiny handbook for handling those tricky conversations we all stumble onto, is available in digital format and paperback.
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