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Kent State Shooting ~ 1970 Remembered 50 Years Later

Kent State ~ A Memory 50 Years Later by Katrina Curtiss 5/4/2020

It was 50 years ago today, when my grade school teacher, told us to sit under our desks; this was a time when school was a “safe space” in spite of the occasional paddling.

She informed us that something was happening about a 20-minute drive away from our location, “Something” was happening on the campus of Kent State University. As I ducked my 11-year-old head under my desk, silence filled the classroom

It wasn’t until I got home, did I learn about the shootings, it was my first experience with the power of Government and Politicians. Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes called in the National Guard to calm students protesting our involvement with the Vietnam War.

Words, rocks, whatever the protesters threw in defiance, in rebellion of our involvement in the Vietnam War, was met with bullets, resulted in 4 deaths, 8 injuries as the world watched in despair.

It remains one of my saddest childhood memories, along side the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, The Battle over Civil Rights, all things that affected my mother, which in turn affected me.

As a young adult, my decision to attend Kent State as a student, divided my mom and me. She worried that I would get shot on campus, that history would repeat itself, I laughed and said, “Mom, they say if you can’t go to school, go to Kent.”

I studied Education, loved the party atmosphere and ran amok for the first couple years, ah youth. No matter my lack of direction, I always felt a sobering silence as I walked the hill where the shootings took place.
I got there too late to participate in “Tent City”, where students camped out in tents to stop the building of a huge building for the Physical Education program, the building was built despite protests in want of investigations, of answers to questions not yet asked.

Years later, as a reporter for a local radio station, I travelled back to my Alma Mater to interview students on the 20th anniversary of the shootings, a public affairs program that I still have somewhere on cassette. Then I interviewed veterans of the Vietnam War, I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting with tape recorder in hand, surrounded by men wounded in body and soul.

As those who now protest against remembering the past are erasing much of our history, this is a snapshot of how many voices of protest were silenced. To this day, 50 years later, we don’t know the truth, why National Guardsmen with guns feared for their lives against students with rocks. Was it fear or was it a direct order, perhaps time will tell, but how much time?

Today’s Musing: “The pictures of today’s protest, remind me of those of yesteryear” ~ Katrina Curtiss #girlwithguitar

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Connie

    Wow! To live in that time and have those memories. Thank you for sharing it with us. Also, thank you for sharing how the emotions that your mom was feeling at the time had an impact on how you felt. That’s eye opening for parents!

  2. Debbie

    Great memory, Kat. I still remember the times; but, not the day with your clarity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. – Debbie

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