On May 4, 1970 the massacre of 4 students occurred at Kent State during the dog days of the war in Vietnam. Two young men and two young women, none of them older than 20 years old were cut down in the prime of their life for protesting a war, an illegal and immoral war in what seems a life time ago.
Colleges shut down as a result of 4 million students boycotting class in sympathy with those who gave up their lives for a just cause. As a student during that era it seemed as if the whole world had gone mad. The war in Vietnam tore the country apart. It seemed as if our so-called adult parents had gone to war against their own children.
The whole tragic episode still seems unreal that a troop of National Guard young men, some not older than the peaceful and unarmed demonstrators that they faced, would be armed with live ammunition in the first place. The war had come to the Heartland of America that day.
I was a student in Graduate School that year. The military draft was a real threat to those eligible to be drafted. The fear was real for a lot of my generation that their number could be up and that they too, could be sent to fight a war in Vietnam. No one wants to go to war but if you are going to die in some far away place, some rice paddy in Southeast Asia, at least the loss of your life should be for a good cause and not a war based upon a lie. No one wants to die for nothing.
Well, here we are 45 years later, and we are still sending young people to die in some far off land. The war in Iraq was also based upon a lie. At least we are not forcing people to serve in the military but with that fact comes another horrible fact and that is that wars nowadays are not wars based upon shared sacrifice.
You would hope that the lessons of Vietnam would be remembered and that we would have learned something from those awful days when so many of my generation died for the ideal of making men and women free. Too much blood has been shed. It is time to turn our guns into plowshares. Let us remember those lives lost 45 years ago. They died for peace. They died in the beauty of their youth. They will be forever young.