Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How It Was: Death At Kent State

National Geographic Channel

Peter Jedick
Author - HIPPIES
How It Was: Death at Kent State Premieres on Tuesday, March 11 at 8p et/pt

I was a junior at Kent State University on May 4th, 1970. On that day Kent State was transformed from an unknown college in the middle of the heartland into an international rally cry to end the war in Vietnam.

The sad part was that four students had to die to do it. The events leading up to the shooting of four college students by the Ohio National Guard have been well documented. It was an anti-Vietnam War protest gone haywire.

Like the majority of Kent’s students I was more of a spectator than a participant. Yet we learned a great deal from the experience.

For one thing, we discovered that the media covered its subjects though a filtered lens. For two years prior to May 4th television cameras were often seen on campus, chronicling the anti-war protests. Yet, when we sat around our off-campus duplex watching the evening news, the sights on our little black and white television barely resembled what we had just witnessed with our own eyes. The boob tube, as we called it, made a hundred protesters look like our entire campus was filled with radicals. It did not play well with our parents back home.

We also learned how important it is to choose the best leaders in Washington D.C. We were not aware of it at the time but we were merely pawns in an international power struggle. Just like today, there were forces at work in the world that were beyond our comprehension. Yet they affected our lives deeply. That those forces would somehow come to clash on a quiet hillside in Kent, Ohio still amazes me.

In 1970, countries around the world were shocked that the American military would fire upon its own citizens. It was not supposed to happen here. I remember that a friend of mine from Kent was studying in Germany when she heard the news of May 4th. She saw it on a Times Square style electronic bulletin board in downtown Berlin.

Of course, the Kent tragedy sparked a huge outcry across our great nation. And the event fired up our entire generation’s interest in government and politics. An interest that we have carried throughout our lifetimes. I am still friends with my old college roommates. Though we live in far flung states we manage to schedule a reunion every few years.

Eventually, I wrote a novel titled HIPPIES based on my experiences at Kent State University. I used my campus friends as models for fictional characters but I placed them in historically correct scenes. I tried to show what a wild and crazy time it was to be a college student. How much fun we had protesting against the war. How no one would have been hurt if only the Ohio National Guard had followed the script being played out at other colleges across our country.

You can find information about Peter Jedick's book, HIPPIES, at HippiesBook.com.

How It Was: Death at Kent State Premieres Tuesday, March 11 at 8p et/pt

How It Was: Death at Kent State Premieres on Tuesday, March 11 at 8p et/pt

More about the shootings at Kent State, click HERE.

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