Boy does time fly. 40 years ago I was sitting in my office in downtown Cleveland when my mother called crying her eyes out. When I finally got her calmed down she was able to tell me I had to go to Kent, Ohio and get my brother, Danny and bring him home. The campus was closed for the year, grades would be mailed home we later learned and the administration as well as those “in charge” wanted everyone off campus as quickly as possible.
Kent, Ohio, pretty little town smack dab in the middle of farming in Ohio, a quiet area – now the most famous little town in the world. 4 people dead, the Ohio National Guard were the shooters.
Who can forget the picture of Vecchio hovering over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller that was on every front page probably in the world? She was 14-15 years old and a runaway who still goes back for the memorial services.
It was not the first time I was scared shitless in my then young life. I remember as if it were yesterday the Cuban missile crisis. That kept me up at nights. I thought for sure we were going to die due to a nuclear bomb attack back when I was still a virgin. I had not had sex yet, experienced love and passion, marriage, children and was terrified we were going to die of radiation poisoning. Thank God that ended quickly and I could still dream.
May 4, 1970 I was no longer a virgin. I was married, had a little boy, and a great job in downtown Cleveland. I was in a good place then that day changed our lives, our pretty little town, our Kent State U.
I promised my mom I would go get my brother. Our dad was very ill with cancer and could not drive so I told my boss I had to leave and took off for Kent State. All we had 40 years ago was landline phones, no beepers, no cell phones, no internet, no modern convenient ways of communication. We had TV/Radio/Newspapers as our main way of learning things but on May 4th no one really knew what was happening in Kent.
By the time I got there it was growing dark. I was flagged down and had to stop to be searched personally as well as having my car totally cleaned out. By the time I got to my brother’s dorm the town was closed – I was an overnight guest of KSU and the Ohio National Guard. I had to sleep in a dorm on the floor with people I did not know.
I did not sleep a wink none of us did. We all were filled with the fear that someone would do something stupid. These were kids-scared kids lying on the floors away from windows not knowing if bullets would fly again.
There have been many school shootings since Kent State, too many school shootings, but this one remains on Richard Nixon’s head – here is what he said that provoked the students – it’s not pretty.
Richard M. Nixon, New York Times, May 2, 1970
Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin’.
Four dead in Ohio.