On this date in 1970 four students were killed on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio.  I was a high school junior in Memphis at the time, and was profoundly impacted by the Massacre, as were many members of my generation.

Please pause for a moment to remember these students.
At that time Memphis had mandatory Army ROTC for all high school sophomores and juniors.  As an Army ROTC cadet, it was my responsibility to raise the American flag in front of the school each morning.

On May 5th I committed my first act of civil disobedience.  Following proper procedure, I raised the flag to full mast, then lowered it to half mast, in honor of the slain.

The response of the Major who was in charge of the school’s ROTC unit could not have been more appropriate. He respected my view, but had the flag raised.  I was not disciplined, and I remained in charge of the procedure for the rest of the year.  The Major was a good man and also a good teacher.  At a hard time he taught me a lot about having a civil debate and respecting others.

Those of us who were around at that time need to pass on what we learned to our younger peers, along with our prayers that they never face a similar situation.  It was not always only pies which were thrown about campuses.

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