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05-04-2005, 03:21 AM

In memory of the Kent State Massacre

by David Williams & April Kozelisky

05/04/05 "ICH (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/)" - - The upcoming thirty-fifth anniversary of the Kent State Massacre is a propitious time to reflect on the events leading up to that infamous day in our history. On May 4th, 1970, troops of the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four students and wounded nine during a noontime antiwar rally. Today, there are a plethora of parallels regarding the causes leading up to those tragic events.

As the 60's Antiwar Movement grew exponentially in numbers, the issue of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps' (ROTC) campus recruiters became a flashpoint of contention among university student activists. Protesters and Armed Forces recruiters clashed on hundreds of college campuses nationwide. Complicit administrations, addled by and addicted to federal funding, tolerated and supported the ROTC at their esteemed institutions of higher education.

On Thursday, April 30th, 1970, with over 400,000 soldiers already bogged down in the Vietnam quagmire, president Nixon announced in a State of The Union Address that the U.S. Armed Forces would "attack strategic Communist sanctuaries" in Cambodia. In a classic case of Orwellian doublespeak, Nixon argued in that in order to end the Vietnam War and begin his promised withdrawal of combat forces, he would expand the Southeast Asian intervention and that by doing so "we shall avoid a wider war."

On Saturday, May 2nd, during a nonviolent demonstration opposing the Vietnam War and the U.S. incursion into Cambodia, anarchist infiltrators, disguised as antiwar protesters, burned down the ROTC building at Kent State University. This act of arson resulted in Ohio's Governor Rhodes imposing martial law and installing the Ohio National Guard into the college town of Kent. The National Guard is primarily recruited by the ROTC.

By Monday, May 4th, hundreds of students, incensed by the troops' presence on their campus and the imposition of strict overnight curfews, gathered to ring the "Freedom Bell" on "The Commons" to protest a wide range of grievances. Armed National Guard troops ordered the students to disperse and fired teargas into the crowds. When classes let out at 11:45 AM, The Commons was flooded with lunch hour students changing venues, protesters, and curious bystanders. The rest, as they say, is history. By 12:10 PM, four academics lay dead - two protesters and two students merely walking to school. One of the dead, William Schroeder, was at the head of his class as a cadet in the ROTC. One of the nine wounded was left a paraplegic, shot in the back while taking cover on the ground.

Thirty-five years later, history is again repeating itself as we find ourselves mired in yet another illegal, imperialistic war of aggression - wrought by our belligerent military-industrial complex. This time, the architects of state-sanctioned genocide are reticent to reinstate the draft. The last thing the Pentagon wants is to refuel the antiwar fervor of 1970. By relying on volunteers, the warmongers can avoid the spectacle of privileged, middle-class students rekindling the Antiwar Movement. The number one tool the Pentagon is using to keep a constant flow of troops available is the ROTC (and the junior, JROTC, for high school students), who primarily target economically disadvantaged students. This is known as the "backdoor draft."

Our children are in great danger, at an impressionable age, of falling in and becoming beguiled by the militaristic machinations of the ROTC. Students seeking a way to improve their future are guided down the fast track toward military life. The JROTC, in particular, is billed as a ticket to social acceptance. Recruitment literature states that students will become a "hot commodity among businesses" after graduation. This delusion of grandeur is quickly reduced, in wartime, into a career as a paid assassin, riding roughshod over innocent people in the Third World whose only crime is living in a strategic, resource-rich land. It is no small irony that the obstacle course at Schofield Barracks, recently visited by Kealakehe and Konawaena JROTC participants is called "Little Nam."

The Pentagon's plans for more wars has one Achilles heel - troops in boots, in their crass parlance. They're going to need a lot more meat in the seats of military transports heading overseas. Overall, Armed Forces recruitment is down over 30%. The National Guard and Reserve, once seen as a safe-haven for weekend warriors, conscientious objectors, and even airman George W. Bush, now represents 40% of the boots on the ground in Iraq, thanks to the "stop-loss" program which prohibits soldiers from retiring after their tour of duty. The Pentagon's top brass are desperate. They recently lowered the high school diploma requirement for inductees to the ninth grade level, while raising the age of enlistment to thirty-nine. So desperate, in fact, they are dragging fifty year old warhorses out of the barn and shipping them off to Iraq and Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. James Helmly, CO of the National Guard, spoke out recently that the Guard and Reserve are "rapidly degenerating into a broken force."

We can defeat the enemies of peace right here at home. Whether you're a parent, student, or concerned citizen, you can help quell the world's most powerful war machine. We can begin by ending the ROTC's hold on all of our educational enclaves. Today, there are 273,000 JROTC cadets in 1555 high schools, nationwide. Local PTA's across the country are organizing to fight against the strictures of the "No Child Left Behind Act" which provides names, addresses, and ages of all students (including those home schooled) to military recruiters. Other organizations of interest include "Parents Against The Draft," "Mothers Against The Draft," and "Veterans Against The Iraq War."

If you are currently a student and find yourself enticed by the $15,000 sign-up bonus now being offered by ROTC recruiters, ask yourself these questions: "What kind of person do I want to be? Am I willing to be the type of person who, at an officer's command, would sneak around the corner of Taylor Hall on May 4th, 1970, and shoot into a group of unarmed students in a parking lot, hundreds of yards away?"

In memory of the Kent State Massacre and its four murdered victims; Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder, and Sandy Scheuer.

David Williams & April Kozelisky Email DWnews@aol.com

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