Sunday, May 2, 2010

40th Anniversary of a local horror: "We the people.."

John Filo's iconic, Pulizer-prize winning photo shows a 14 year old Mary Ann Vecchio leaning over the body of Jeffrey Miller during the infamous May 4th shootings at Kent State University

"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio." -- Neil Young

Recently, I had the opportunity to join in on the making of a documentary commemorating the 40th anniversary of a local horror: the Kent State shootings of 1970.

Kent State is literally a 15 minute drive from my house. The otherwise green, sprawling campus was transformed to a site of bloodshed on May 4, 1970, when nine students were injured and 4 were killed during a protest of the American invasion of Cambodia; some of the students who were shot were simply walking by. National Guardsmen fired a reported 67 rounds of ammunition over a period of 13 seconds.

Al Canfora, leader of the Kent State May 4th Task Force and one of the students injured that day, holds a CD recording that captured the National Guardsmen giving the order to fire. Aspiring filmmaker Blue Green (bottom right corner) has his camera rolling.

The famous, Pulizer-prize winning photo by John Filo is an iconic representation of horror eched into the minds of many Americans. It's also a representation of what's been called the day the sixties ended.

The site of Jeffrey Miller's death today

Today, students walk by this scene of horror busy with their lives, with hardly at thought given to four students, Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller and William Schroeder, who lost their lives on that fatal day 40 years ago. The places of those who died is marked off with black posts and an engraved marker with each student's name.

Those involved with the May 4th Task Force (M4TF) are asking that the university moves trees that were planted after the shootings in 1970. The M4TF believes the trees were planted in 1971 in an effort to make people believe there was more foliage at the site of the shootings, thereby showing the National Guard shot the students in error. The trees, say the M4TF, were planted in the direct line of fire.

The site at Kent State is now recognized as a historical landmark by the United States Government.

A sign at the site of the shootings gives details about the May 4 massacre, as people gather for a 40 year anniversary press conference.

In September 1789, the United States Bill of Rights was created as a cornerstone to how the United States would be governed. That very first point, The First Amendment, outlined the right of the people to peaceably gather in demonstration.

The police state that existed 40 years ago that mowed down students peaceably assembling on the ground of a local university is the spirit of terrorism.

Some say those in the M4TF need to get over it. It happened 40 years ago, let it go alrady. There's memorials. It's been recognized. Move on.

A May 4 memorial sculpture at the site of the shootings, with the name of one of the victims, "Jeffrey" engraved in it along with peace signs.

But, forgetting gives way to repeating our past. In the words of Bob Marley, "In this bright future you can't forget your past."

Let us remember, lest we forget.

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