This years’ Special Graduation for the Kent State Class of 1970 is about closure.
I wonder when I, and the other Americans who went into Cambodia and sparked this sad incident, will ever get closure?
Who will talk about our experience and disillusionment when we found out that students our age were being shot by the National Guard because they were protesting what we were doing in Cambodia? We were there to end the war. We knew the enemy command center was operating out of Cambodia for years. They’d cross the border and then dash back to Cambodia, knowing our politicians wouldn’t let us chase them down.
Then the decision was made to bring the conflict to an end by killing and capturing the NVA Command structure that was staging attacks in Cambodia. At first, most Americans didn’t even know we were there, let alone what our mission was. When bits and pieces leaked out about our activities the general picture formed by college students, and activists, was that the war was being extended and more people were going to die. They reacted accordingly. What followed was a tragedy.
I wish someday our story would be put into a different context. We thought we were bringing an end to the war, and that we’d be greeted as heroes when we defeated the enemy. Instead people remember what happened to the students and it seems like those of us that went into Cambodia were/are the bad guys in history. Even the men that died fighting there have been given no respect. Their ghosts haunt me, and I guess they always will.
“Forty years later, Gary Lownsdale is still haunted by what he felt and what he saw in the last days of his senior year.
Shock and outrage over the May 4 National Guard slayings of four Kent State University students, on the other end of Ohio from his University of Cincinnati campus. Then fear and confusion as schools across the state and much of the country saw the demonstrations against the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia swell into angry, combative confrontations.”