Remembering Kent State

Author Philip Caputo had an interesting interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that I caught the other day at lunch. And the NPR website has « an interesting section featuring Caputo’s writing on the Kent State shootings » on the 35th anniversary:

‘The hill slopes down in a sweep of green to a green field. That must be the practice field where the Guardsmen knelt and fired with their World War II M-1 rifles. It is quite peaceful today, empty, banal. Below, I spot what appears to be a marker, walk to it, and discover that it’s merely a piece of sculpture. Somewhat frustrated, I climb back up and ask a student, “Is the memorial around here?” “Right over there,” he says, pointing at a clump of trees. It is unobtrusive to say the least, almost covert, hidden under a grove of oaks and maples: a marble tablet set in the ground near some marble slabs that, I guess, serve as benches. The sole decorations are a few artificial flowers bound with pink and purple ribbon, a foil pinwheel that turns lazily in the breeze, the blades silver on one side, painted with the stars and stripes on the other. Its modesty seems deliberate, as if it commemorated a dark secret, like the gravestone of a relative who shamed the family. The tablet is covered with dead leaves, which I brush off to read the chiseled legend:

Allison Krause
Jeffrey Miller
Sandra Scheuer
William Schroeder

Alan Canfora
John Cleary
Thomas Grace
Dean Kahler
Joseph Lewis
Donald Mackenzie
James Russell
Robby Stamps
Douglas Wrentmore

‘For all its uninspiring nature, it is a kind of war memorial, honoring the casualties of the day when the Vietnam War came home.’

It’s a fascinating look at a period which is still a fresh wound on the nation’s soul.