Reflecting on the Kent State shootings

Reading this piece today brought all the memories back of that day fifty years ago when panicked National Guardsmen fired on protesters at Kent State University. I was seventeen years old in that spring of 1970 and would soon be draft age. The war was real for me as it was for most Americans that spring. Some like me didn’t know what to do other than hope and pray that somehow we avoided the meat grinder of Vietnam. The war still divides our politics. In the last presidential election the current president avoided the draft with bone spurs. That’s a nebulous reason but many sought out of a war that had no real meaning.

We were told of course that Vietnam was another domino and that if we didn’t stop the communist government there that eventually they’d be knocking on our door here on the mainland of the United States. That was of course a huge lie but when militarists and politicians join forces any damn provocation will do. Most of the wars the United States has been involved in since World War II were wars of choice. The military industrial complex is well established in the United States. Despite the will of the people we continue to grow and expand our military might.

We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.

Omar Bradley

The United States of America will finally become great when we beat our swords into plowshares and accept the Sermon on the Mount. Omar Bradley had us pegged. We are indeed nuclear giants and ethical infants who know more about war making than peace making. Maybe this current pandemic can become a metanoia for our country.

Fifty years later I remember that spring afternoon in 1970 when we learned of the deaths of Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer who were protesting our addiction to war.

One Reply to “Reflecting on the Kent State shootings”

  1. I wonder if people will remember who Omar Bradley is? He oversaw the national transition to the relentless military-industrial complexthat eats our national budget today.  Not that that was his goal.  He has anhonorable reputation. “General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was a senior officer of the United States Army during and after World War II. Bradley was the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and oversaw the U.S. military’s policy-making in the Korean War.

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