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.

Rolling Thunder

We were in Washington for the weekend celebrating 30 years of marriage. Washington is a great place to visit and we were among thousands of other Americans who were in the nation’s capital for the weekend. Among those who came to Washington, DC this weekend were the members of “Rolling Thunder“, a group that makes it point to remember and advocate for prisoners of war and those missing in action in all of our wars. As my wife and I walked from our hotel towards the National Mall we could see and hear the thunder and rumble of the engines of these valiant bikers many of whom traveled hundreds of miles to attend. As we made our way past the Institute of Peace and walked toward the Lincoln Memorial the din from the roar of motorcycle engines grew louder. As we walked past these men and women many of whom sported Vietnam Campaign ribbons and clothing reminiscent of Vietnam I was deeply moved. Tears came to my eyes as I recalled an earlier time when many of these veterans like myself served our country at a difficult time in our history. Eventually we made it to the Vietnam Wall itself and joined thousands who were on hand to pay tribute to the men and women whose names are on that wall and to the many more who were forever touched by Vietnam but whose names will never be known except to their families. A few decades from now there will be no Vietnam veterans on the National Mall. Only the memories of the men and women who served valiantly at a particular time in American history.

Peace is every step..

I came across this video while searching for peace videos on Youtube. There is some footage of Claude Anshin Thomas of whom I wrote the other day. There is some of Thich Nhat Hanh and others who are committed to peace.

I am committing what’s left of my life to stopping war and working for peace. Our politicians don’t have the stomach but perhaps you and I do. [youtube=]

“The truth is the truth, even when you are a minority of one”–Gandhi

Wes Clark

In the last five years I’ve had to listen to right wing chicken hawks impugn my generation and while they beat the war drums for their trumped up war in Iraq. Now of course this same malevolent element is trying to take us to the precipice of yet another war. Continue reading “Wes Clark”