Every day in a person’s life represents an occasion, but only rarely does an occasion turn into action. And even rarer are those actions aimed at bettering ”social justice”. What seems to prevails is lack of information and silence over what is inconvenient to the powers that be… That’s how those who want to raise their voice are reduced to silence. And whoever does try is labeled as disobedient…
2009. Stu, freshman at Kent State University, is a history student. He is fascinated by the larger-than-life personages, and by epic battles, a bit less by dates and by the dead who are only numbers to be remembered.
It’s on a day in May when Stu sees him, while he walks through a throng of young people, though young he is no more… That man in his sixties’ penetrates space with a look that seems to cut through the present facing him, and reconstruct a memory of the past. In an instant Stu is struck. He realizes who that man is… He can’t keep himself from following him, while he walks between Prentice Hall and Taylor Hall. He remembers the photos seen on the Internet, but doesn’t have the guts to stop him.
Sandra Scheuer, Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, William Schroeder.
67 shots, 13 seconds, 4 dead at Kent State University. A constitution, the U.S. constitution, buried on that campus.
They had called him “Kent State”, a name that memory would soon have forgotten… Then he got rebaptized “May 4th”, and the date took up a place in history.
1970. The United States, guided by Nixon, invades Cambodia. The war in Vietnam doesn’t end, it grows. The promises made by the President in his electoral campaign are not maintained. Too many interests keep that war alive. There’s need for a new stronghold in Asia, Japan no longer suffices. Comunism advances and the United States are afraid. Afraid to speak out the truth, to confront a different “model”… It cannot afford the risk that someone may no longer like coke or hamburgers. So, it doesn’t matter how much human flesh must be sacrificed… The important thing is to reestablish a balance… The new watchword is to attack…
Eliminate whoever doesn’t go along with the”American Way of Life”, it doesn’t matter whether within or without it’s boundaries. Every means is legitimate … If it’s the “President’s Men” or their offshoots, using it.
Stu keeps staring at that man’s wrist.
He was that long-haired boy, waving a black flag in front of the army… A moment before Vietnam reached the United States… A moment before a bullet lodged itself in his wrist.
May 4th, 1970. On one side the Ohio university students calling for peace. They do it using violence and the stones they throw against the police… on the other the power play, people like H. R. Haldeman, called with sadic irony, according to the occasion, “The Brush”, the “President’s son-of-a-bitch” and “Berliner Wall”.
Mr X is a boy like any other, that on May 4th, 1970 happens to walk through the campus of Kent University and casually becomes witness of a piece of history that passes in front of him. Mr X is a guy with a camera, who thrown in the midst of as “civil war.” The National Guard shoots wildly on the demonstrators, and a boy falls to the ground. Jeffrey Miller is dead. By that lifeless body there’s as fourteen-year-old girl, Mary Ann Vecchio, who had runa way from her home to take part in the demonstration. Mr X shoots the photo, and wins the Pulitzer prize.
That Mr X is John Filo, he is 23, studies at Kent and writes for the Pittsburg Tribune-Review.
May 4th, 2009. Stu at the moment is not interested in the story of John Filo or of Mary Ann Vecchio – it will take them 25 years to meet – nor Watergate… but there are four broken lives … a victim who has become a symbol. And Alan walking in front of him is one of the eye witnesses of the day of folly.
He tries twice to approach that man, to stop him… but then checks himself, because every question that comes to his mind is disjointed, a bit like the images of those bodies that keep dancing in his head.
In the end, he lets Alan walk away … he and his past… at bottom, Stu belongs to those of the 21st century, who no longer throw stones, but lower their head and shout their dissent between the walls of their home. Those who read history, but don’t make it. Who watch Occupy Wall Street on the web, and write messages of support, but well protected by their anonymous avatars.
For those like Stu, the movement is something abstract, a bloc, a piece of newscast… Zucconi Square is a point on Google maps, or one of the million pix that get posted everyday… The demonstration is comfortably served on the sofa.
Throttling the voice of kids like Stu is fragility, the fear of feeling lonely among so many… It was the group, hands reaching out, common ideals, that made boys like Alan cry out.
Stu picks up his i-Phone and takes a picture of the Memorial. Tonight he’ll post it on Facebook… This his contribution to the world… it’s not much, but there are even those who pass by and ignore those six columns, not even a glance. No one has the guts to die for an ideal… Sandra Scheuer, Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, William Schroeder are no more.