Kent State 37 years later by Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan Kent State 37 Years Later Cindy Sheehan
This is the keynote address Cindy gave on May 04, 2007, at the
commemoration of the Kent State Massacre.
First of all, I would just like to say that I am not only in favor
of impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, but of trying them for
war crimes and locking them both up in Guantanamo for the rest of
their lives! I also agree with Tom (Hayden) that an anti-war movement
is basically a self-destructive movement, because when our objectives
are achieved, the movement is over. That is why we must call ourselves
a peace movement so our movement will never end. There will always
be a need for people who commit their lives to peace as strenuously
as they commit their lives to the anti-war movement.
I cant begin to tell you how honored I am to have been invited here
to speak on this historic occasion with the other speakers who have
also felt the sting of war and the pain of loss and lingering
regrets. I am indescribably moved to be adopted into the Kent State
family and invite you all down to Camp Casey in Crawford this August
to join our family!
Before the program started I took the chance to climb the hill and
spend time at the places where Allison Krauss, Jeff Miller, Bill
Schroeder and Sandy Scheuer each fell and I would like to share
some thoughts that I had up there with you.
My first thought was of the randomness of violence. The four students
who were killed that day just happened to occupy the same space as
a National Guard bullet at the same time. Unlike those wounded,
some pretty badly, those that perished that awful day were struck
by the bullets in vitally important parts of their bodies. The
places where the four fell, never to get up again, are marked in
memorium to the stupidity and permanence of violence. One day, I
hope to travel to Sadr City, Baghdad to see and stand in the spot
where my son, Caseys, brain collided with an insurgents bullet,
taking his life by the same shapeless and dark entity that stole
the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, on the same day: April 04.
This same entity took the lives of the young people here thirty-seven
years ago, and at: Jackson State a few days later, Virginia Tech,
Columbine High School, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and the myriad
of South American countries that the USA has violently intruded in
over the years. This thing, this force is hatred fueled by ignorance;
hatred exploited by the corporate war machine and hatred perpetuated
by the corporate prostitutes that run our government. Hatred that
is systemic and endemic in our society because we dont see the other
side as humanor we see our enemies as less human than ourselves.
Kent State is not the first place that bottles, sticks, and rocks
have been met with bullets and tear gas---it happens still notably
to our Palestinian brothers and sisters and before in Northern
Ireland among other places where people are oppressed.
I am sure when the students at Kent State were met with the Ohio
National Guard many years ago they only saw riot gear and the faces
of the man. I just hung up the phone with a Vietnam combat veteran
who at the time had just returned from a tour of duty in Nam. He
recalled being ashamed and disgusted that he wore the same uniform
as the National Guard who slaughtered the students. Soldiers do
have hearts and souls and especially during the Vietnam quagmire
many of them understood that their government was as Martin Luther
King Jr had said three years and one month before the slaughter
here: the biggest perpetrator of violence.
I am also equally sure that the National Guard troops did not see
the students who were their age, their color, their nationality,
as their brothers and sisters. Being so far away they could not
look in the eyes of the young people they were about to murder and
see the heart-light there that matched their own.
Just as in My Lai, Haditha, Fallujah, etc, no one was ever punished
for the crimes against humanity that were perpetrated here on this
sacred ground thirty-seven years ago today. If there is one lesson
we failed to learn in 1970 that we must learn today, its that wearing
a uniform, badge, or a five-thousand dollar suit does not give a
person the right or authority to kill another human being.
1970 was a very turbulent time for this nation and our world, but
people, especially you young people, you need to realize that in
this age of corporate control of the media and the corporate fascism
that rules America, it is more urgent than ever that we put warm
bodies on the streets to stop BushCo and the war machine.
I was 12 years old thirty-seven years ago today. I was aware of the
news, but I was probably more concerned about my softball batting
average and eagerly awaiting the end of another boring school year.
Little did I know, suspect or even fear that I would give birth to
a wonderful baby boy named Casey in nine years and 25 days. If I
thought about it, I would hope that my children would grow up in a
country that rejected war and violence---but not only did I not
think of those things, I didnt plan for a future without war or
violence. This is why it is so urgent to do it now for your children
and my own unborn grandchildren that are already so precious to me.
I was honored with the opportunity to stand vigil in the spot where
Allison Krauss fell. I thought of her mother and the pain she felt
when she heard the news and her pain every day since May 04, 1970.
I thought of another life uselessly, tragically, violently, randomly
and stupidly cut short. I thought of the hundreds of thousands of
innocent Iraqis who do not have memorials to their Bush wasted
lives. I renewed my vow to work for peace for Allison for the rest
of my life. Because in the great tradition of Rosa Parks, Harriet
Tubman, St. Joan of Arc, Rachel Corrie and Marla Rudzicka, Allison
stood her ground against injustice and for her sacrifice we will
all be richer.
Before we can purge our country of the hatred that is fed by greed,
we must purge our own hearts of the hatred that is fueled by
bitterness. Lets stand peacefully, yet firmly and fearlessly in the
face of the war machine that devours our children with their blood
One speaker before me said that Jesus never started a war. Well
Jesus never started a religion either, no matter what the Catholics
or Baptists think; but what Jesus did start was a non-violent
revolution that has been bastardized by the religious right. Gandhi
said: I like your Christ, but not your Christians, they are nothing
like your Christ! It was proved here and elsewhere during the Vietnam
anti-war movement that we cannot fight wars using their tactics or
methods: we dont have the firepower that they do and we have no
soldiers or generals. Our country fights wars against drugs, poverty
and terror and our struggle is technically a war against war but
we are humans as are the people we allow our government to kill in
our names using our tax money. We need to forge a non-violent
revolution for peace and struggle to see the heart-lights in the
eyes of our enemies so eventually we will prevail.
Buddhists have a saying that people die twice: once when there
bodies die and once when the last person who remembers them dies.
We must not allow our nation to forget the sacrifices of Casey and
Augie (Shroeder, KIA 08/03/06, whose mom, Rosemary Palmer spoke)
and the lessons of Iraq and the criminal Bush regime as we apparently
forgot the lessons of Kent State, Vietnam, and the criminal Nixon
regime. However as long as there is one of us still standing,
shining our heart-lights and working for peace: Allison, Jeff, Bill,
Sandy, Augie and Casey will live forever!
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed
in Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04.
She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace
and The Camp Casey Peace Institute.
Ron Paul For President 2008
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