Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4th memorial walk

May 3rd, 2010

We had a great walk across campus in memory of May 4th, 1970. It has been 40 years, and it seems as though it is just now being embraced as an important part of history... and a great lesson that shouldn't be forgotten. We took our time, walking from sign to sign, trying to picture the whole scene in our heads and trying to understand what happened. Not WHY it happened, but just understanding the facts. I let both boys walk through it themselves, and had to do occasional re-routing of Brandon (I was SOOO embarassed when he stepped on a daffodil!!!). They were so good about it, and we actually enjoyed the wonderfully warm night and the gathering of people around campus and listening in to their conversations. Brandon did really good putting stones on the sites where the shootings happened. I learned a little bit about the traditions of different cultures, and that was cool. (Look up/google using rocks instead of flowers for memorials - I believe it's a Hebrew tradition.) The walk was long, but we didn't mind. While the sun was setting, we went off track to examine some of the other art-work on campus. I showed the boys "Tilt", a structure made of newspapers from 2005, and explained what it USED to look like and how neat it was that it looked so different now. Unfortunately, Brandon decided that was the perfect time to stop for a break and 'relieve' himself. Nice. Well, that smelled. lol Well, we weren't close enough to the car yet, and we had quite a ways to walk back to it. Unfortunately, Brandon was now walking MUCH slower, and I had forgotten to throw a diaper in my handy-dandy carrier (which I was wearing like a messenger bag). So, to get back to the car quicker, I threw him in the carrier and we walked straight back to the car. I put the back seat down and laid out the blanket from the carrier (the trunk is really hard and scratchy) and proceeded to stink up the entire car. UGH! What's worse, is that it wasn't solid and it leaked all over his pants. So those came off! But by then it was chilly, so going home pantsless wasn't really an option. Luckily, it hadn't leaked onto the blanket carrier, so he just cuddled under that the rest of the way home, while we left the sunroof open and jammed to a little classic rock on the car stereo. ;-) It was a great evening with my kids... something I will treasure forever, and I hope they do, too.


Now... if you'll pardon me for a minute... I'd like to share some thoughts about something other than "Adventures in Babywearing". It was something I needed to say, but didn't know where to say it. So here it is.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" ~George Santayana

____It was strange, considering I grew up so close to this memorial, yet I almost never think about it. It's a part of the scenery, a part of the town, blended into the hill... and yet, if you make a point to walk through it for the SAKE of thinking about it, it can really make an impact on you. I have walked past the sites where the Kent Four have died many times before, and until I stopped and thought about what happened on that spot and just how tragic and unnecessary it was, I never really understood what kind of lesson we were supposed to learn from mistakes like this in history. What was it that we were supposed to tell our children about this? Would they ever understand it? Could they ever relate to it? I suddenly felt the weight of being a mother on my shoulders. I had no idea what lesson I was supposed to teach my children.
____I read the editorial about the May 4th incident in the University Paper, and that's when it hit me... it is nearly impossible for college students and teenagers to understand the impact this incident has had on their lives. For me, it wasn't even about the war or protesting it, or whether wars should exist or not. That's not why we remember this. It's because what happened was unnecessary... and it resulted in the deaths of people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time... and they couldn't have even known that they were in the wrong place until it was too late. For the first time during that war, the war came HOME.
____This was a different war than we might be familiar with now, although the lessons are still important. There were no cell phone alerts to pass along a message from the University about dangers on the campus. No terrorism alert signs telling us what level of anxiety we should have. There were no laptops to be able to research the moods and attitudes of students across the campus, and no blogs or facebook pages where the University could communicate openly with the students and address the issues that weighed heavily on their hearts. Back then, students were looked down upon because everyone assumed they were there simply to avoid the draft. (If you don't know what a draft was, or why going to college might protect you from it, you have some research to do!) If you were in college, then you were a hippy, and an activist, and you had radical, even crazy, ideas. You weren't cutting edge, you were just nuts and a plague to our Leave-it-to-Beaver world. Let's not forget... law enforcement didn't use rubber bullets back then, either. There were no riot shields or Kevlar vests to make them feel more protected and calm under the pressure of a crowd. And there was no internet where students felt they could have an impact and make their voices heard. Instead they had to shout it out loud just to get anyone to pay attention.
____I wonder now, if 'kids these days' will ever understand what people have done to pave the way for them. A college graduate today goes through such a different experience, and is looked at in such a different way than 40 years ago. Universities are so much more involved in what their students do, and they are held MUCH more responsible for the citizens that are a part of their campus. It's a necessity. A campus is a community within a community. But it's important to remember that both the city and the campus are intertwined, and they are dependent upon each other, not at odds with each other. One supports the other in ways too complicated to begin to describe. It's a support system with a very delicate balance. So much more delicate than we realized 40 years ago. The world is different today, and with that difference comes new concerns, but also new experiences and new opportunities... and new lessons. But we still have to teach the old lessons, lest our children learn from experience.

"History repeats itself because no one was listening the first time." ~Anonymous

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