40 years ago when blood flowed.

When Kent State went down 40 years ago today I was still in junior high school and far more interested in sweet young things in sweaters than National Guardsmen gunning down students.

I don’t remember if we discussed the shootings after it happened.  Maybe we did, but there are few things more apolitical than a 14-year-old teenage boy.

With the authorization of Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes, National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University.   They killed four and wounded nine.  Ten days later, police opened fire on students at Jackson State University in Mississippi killing two and wounding 12.

The relative passivity of contemporary college students when compared to the anti-war fervor of the early Seventies may just be a logical extension of how the media covers protest movements, how the military allows wars to be betrayed and how we’ve changed in 40 years.   How many would turn out for mass demonstrations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?   Probably not enough to fill a good sized football stadium these days.

I don’t want to bust on students today for being politically disconnected.  Vietnam was a different kind of war waged for different kinds of reasons than Iraq and Afghanistan.  Certainly a thug like Richard Nixon was viewed much differently than Barack Obama or even George W. Bush.   Iran was every bit as much of an illegal war as Vietnam.  President Lyndon Johnson lied the country into war just as much as Bush did,  and it always seems whether it is big or small, every president has to have his war.

Maybe what’s missing now are is a really good anti-war song.  Until Neil Young kicked his partners in Crosby, Stills and Nash in the ass with “Ohio” they probably would have remained a bunch of pot-bellied hippies singing about flowers, free love and all that groovy kind of stuff  man.

Fortunately, Mr. Young had a finely tuned sense of outrage.

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin’.
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it.
Soldiers are gunning us down.
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.

Gotta get down to it.
Soldiers are cutting us down.
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin’.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio

Kent State got the headlines, but blood was spilled at Jackson State too.

The four who died in Kent State were Alison Krause,  Jeffrey Lee Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer, and William Knox Schroeder

The two who died at Jackson State were Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green.

Requiescant in pace.

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