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“Four Dead In Ohio”

February 2, 2015

One of the joys of getting older is listening to classic rock and letting it rekindle memories.  The other night I was listening to Neil Young’s “Four Dead In Ohio“, which brought back thoughts of what things were like “back then”.  The song was written about the massacre that had occurred on May 4, 1970 at Kent State University in Ohio.  During a student demonstration protesting our involvement in Vietnam, and particularly our bombing of Cambodia, the Ohio National Guard fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds killing four students and wounding nine.  Some were protesters, some simply bystanders. This picture was a dramatic expression of the senselessness of the massacre.

Kent_State_massacre The question that crossed my mind was, how many    people today would know what this picture or the song is about?  Probably anyone born before 1959, but would someone who is around 20 know?  This was one of the catalysts that helped to bring about the end of that war.

Things have changed quite a bit since that era.  Today, those in uniform are considered heroes. A soldier in uniform is likely to be thanked as they pass by. Many times, someone offers to pay for their meal if they see them in a restaurant. In 1970, and a little before and after, a soldier was more likely to be spit at or called a “baby killer”.  I remember in 68′ not wearing my uniform on a flight home for just that reason.

Another huge difference was the way the war impacted life.  Any male between 19 and 26 was eligible for the draft.  If you were male, you were either drafted, or figured a way not to be.  The nightly news was a constant reminder of the cost of the Vietnam War, body counts were announced from both sides. Today, the military fighting in Afghanistan, and those that fought in Iraq, are really only thought about by their families and relatives.  Most of us go about our daily routine without thinking about today’s conflicts.  News stories about these wars are buried on page five or six of local papers. Ironically, today, the majority are what Creedence Clearwater Revival called “Fortunate Sons” back in 69′.

The only things that haven’t changed are the lies the government tells and the willingness of politicians to send young people into combat.  The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, which allowed the escalation of the war in Vietnam, was as much a fabrication as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Both, based on slivers of truth, were used to justify our involvement in wars that should never have been fought.  In Vietnam 58,209 dead, 153,303 wounded.  In Afghanistan and Iraq 6,717 dead, 50,897 wounded, and counting.  This doesn’t include the over 100,000 Vietnam vets who have committed suicide and the numbers of suicides from the two recent wars.

The picture from Kent State shocked a nation and made us rethink just what the hell was going on.  As long as we don’t remember it, or are not confronted with the reality of war, we  will continue to stand by and allow young men and women to die needlessly.  Will it take another “Four Dead In Ohio” for us to care?  Or as Bob Dylan said, “How many deaths will it take……….?


2 Comments leave one →
  1. permalink
    February 2, 2015 8:39 pm

    Thanks for this reminder Bro. Bill.

    My Best, Deborah Trusty

    157 NE Alder Street Toledo, Oregon 97391 541-270-5858

  2. Betty permalink
    February 8, 2015 3:00 pm

    I have been thinking about this for quite a while now. I watch on the news the men and women today being called heroes, when I can remember the Vietnam vets coming home to ridicule. I wonder how they feel when they are watching these stories. Did we learn nothing from that war? Why must history repeat itself?

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