In a mere two weeks from this Thursday–May 3–I’ll be making my way back to the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. I’ll spend that day and evening with my mom and probably see my sister and brother-in-law before the night is over. It will be a good visit. I’ll bid them adieu the next morning and continue east in my venerable Ford Ranger to the small town of Kent, a place that holds so many memories for me. Of course, anyone old enough to recognize the name of Kent—and the university that resides there—probably can understand the significance of the date that I’ll be arriving: May 4.
May 4 and Kent State University will forever be joined in infamy as the time and place of a very tragic incident: the killing of four students and the wounding and maiming of many others by Ohio National Guardsmen on a beautiful and warm day in 1970. It was a very volatile time then, and whatever view one has about the reasons for why things happened as they did, does not seem to get any clearer as the years continue to put distance between then and now.
I’m returning this year to reunite with many fraternity brothers and share in many activities for three days. Of course, there will be many opportunities to revisit the campus and watch and listen to the commemorative services that will be the order of the day on May 4. I will reflect and remember exactly where I was on that sun-splashed afternoon so long ago. I will have trouble recognizing fraternity brothers—and they me—but it will all work out for the best. We’ll have some cold beer, revisit (or try to!) many old haunts in and around campus, and generally have a wonderful time of it. Then, Sunday will come and we’ll all say “so long” again and scatter to our various points of residence. Strange how this happens.
Next: My May 4 memories from being there when it happened.