Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming

40 years ago today...
these four young people died. For no particular reason that I've ever heard.

I was ten. I can't claim to remember the event very well. What I do remember is this: I was living in another town in Ohio, Athens, home of Ohio University. I don't remember the ensuing riots; we lived a ways from campus, and we stayed the hell away. I do remember seeing the damaged businesses downtown and the damage around campus: broken windows, smashed doors, debris in the streets, smoke stains from fires. I remember grim National Guardsmen everywhere. Being stopped by armed guards when we tried to drive back into town. Personnel carriers with guns pointed out over their tailgates.

It was a scary education for a ten-year-old boy.

But nothing like the education those Kent State students got on that spring day so long ago.
However disgusted I may be with politics in this country, my faded memories have put things in a different perspective today. Hard as it is to believe, things could be worse.
"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio."

For a more substantive analysis of the context and lyrics, the source of the four portraits above is a gripping read. History largely saddles Nixon with this atrocity, but I'd like to give a special shout out to James Rhodes, Ohio's governor at the time, as a pigfucker of note.Sorry ma'am. Your kid won't be coming home. Ever. Governor Rhodes felt that carrying signs was too threatening to the stability of his government. So he had'em shot from a football field away. Have a nice day.

Followup, 12:03: Via EB Misfit, here's an essay by one mother whose child never came home from college.

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