Dave Green, Personal Narrative and Commentary
Submitted via email May 12, 2003
I was in my senior year of high school when it happened. My thoughts were on plans for college, the approaching summer, and final exams before graduation. I watched the television coverage and read the newspaper articles. Kent State seemed so far away from a small town in Pennsylvania. At the time I felt anger, that any government would shoot college students for any reason. However, in youth, anger passes quickly, and soon my thoughts turned to more personal matters......college, the draft, and moving away from home for the first time.
It wasn't until I set foot on the campus at Ithaca College, NY, that the reality of Kent State, the War, and the true political climate sunk in. I met students from both Ithaca and Cornell who had returned from the war......some crippled or disfigured. We weren't allowed to register for classes my second semester (or maybe third) until we agreed to be fingerprinted for the FBI. This must have been some kind of civil rights violation, but it was a matter of holding out and not getting the classes you needed or giving "them" what "they" wanted......so we caved in and did it. I retrospect I (in fact WE) should have held out (some campus radicals we were!). I did participate in all the protests......was the "first kid on my block" with a "Nixon Eviction" bumper sticker on my VW. The War was finally coming to an end, Tricky Dick got what was coming to him, and I dropped out of school while that was still fashionable (not necessarily in that order).
Allow me to draw this tale to a close and make some kind of point. At the ripe age of 51, I have time to reflect and view the world in a sharper perspective. I see a political climate not unlike the one 33 years ago which made this website a necessity. Seeing how the recent war protesters were treated brought back memories of newsreels past. How quickly the American people forget......is 33 years such a long time? We really need to remember Kent State and the climate which brought the shootings about and understand it. The most important thought I can pass on to younger generations is to look around you, listen, and LEARN. Look inside yourself and be comfortable with your ideals and convictions. Your opinion and beliefs are important....and you have every right to have them. The four students who died on May 4, 1970 gave their lives for those rights as much as any soldier in any war. Courageous acts are often brief and unfortunately just as often forgotten........regrets are remembered for a lifetime. Be true to yourselves, my friends, and keep the memory of May 4, 1970 well. The future of our freedoms may depend on it.