As we age we keep amassing dates we’re supposed to remember and events were not supposed to forget where we were.
May 4, 1970, is one such date. Fifty years ago today was the day Ohio’s Kent State University forever became a permanent chapter in the nation’s anti-Vietnam War history book.
It was the day when Ohio governor James Rhoades unleashed the Ohio National Guard and permitted it to use lethal military force to quell student anti-war activities on the campus of Kent State
And, it was a day that before it ended, four students lay dead on the grassy knolls an Ohio center of learning.
I don’t know where you were on that day but I was finishing up the school year as an American History teacher at California’s Villa Park High School. Because of the time delay, the news didn’t reach us until we were just sitting down for lunch in the teacher’s cafeteria. After the horror of the event sank in a more horrible discussion broke out amongst the staff present. The language arts and social studies teachers were mostly anti-war while the business and trade instructors were mostly conservative and pro-war.
It was not where one wanted to be and the conversation became more heated than one wanted to be present for. Looking back and comparing it to today reminds me that Americans have maybe always been deeply at odds with each other. Maybe we’ve never been as united as we want to believe we were.