"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. We're finally on our own own. This summer I hear the drumming. Four dead in Ohio."
I couldn't believe my eyes. I'm watching the news last night when I see police pepper spraying peaceful Occupy-sympathizing protestors at the University of California-Davis. In fact, they were so peaceful they were sitting cross-legged in a line on the ground in front of the police who not only pepper sprayed them once, but twice, then three times, four times, so many times they ran out of pepper spray and had to get another can!
I was initially numb with shock and then my anti-war roots began to kick in and I was royally angry not only at the cops but at the insensitive and insulting remarks made by Newt "the Grinch" Gingrich, the Republican's "Flavor of the Month" when he commented that these protestors need to get a bath and a job. It took me back long ago to Nixon, Agnew and the rest of them who told us Boomers to get haircuts and get real jobs. We took care of them didn't we? Now it's time to take care of them again. We need to stand up and speak with one voice before they start killing our children again. Remembering Ohio.
I can't decide if the tragedy at Kent State University happened a long, long time ago, or if it was just yesterday. Probably both and if we don't get a grip on our response to the Occupy Movement it may happen again and soon. Forty-one years ago, several members of the Ohio National Guard shot directly into a group of unarmed anti-war protestors. Four were killed; another nine were wounded. One of the wounded was paralyzed for life. The dead included: Allison Krause, 19; William Schroeder, 19; Jeffrey Miller, 20; Sandra Schener, 20. These young people were, in fact, massacred. They were shot at distances of between 270 and 390 feet. Some of the students were not even directly involved in the protest.
Immediately after the shootings, Neil Young composed the song "Ohio" after looking at photos appearing in Life magazine and then taking a walk in the woods. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young went to the studio and recorded the song which was released to radio stations shortly after the killings. Soon, the lyrics "Four dead in Ohio" became an anthem to a generation. In some parts of the country, the song was banned from play lists because of it's "anti-war" and "anti-Nixon" sentiments.
The similarities between today's "Occupy Wall Street" and the "Anti-War" movement in the 60's are apparent. The early years of the anti-war demonstrations were marked by loosely organized events where young people would gather in a park ... a rock band would show up ... reefer would break out and people would start the chanting. After a while, they would start walking towards their city halls, their state capitols, the nation's capitol demanding an end to an unjust war. Later on there would be organized rallies where tens of thousands of young people gathered to camp, listen to rock bands, listen to anti-war speeches, march, clash with law enforcement and never give up their vigil to end the Vietnam war. We changed the world then and now it's another generation's opportunity to change the world again. The system has failed them and they're not going to take it anymore.
"Gotta get down to it. Soldiers are cutting us down. Should have been done long ago."
• Jon Beydler is a 32-year Valley resident and the former mayor of Fountain Hills who now lives in Chandler.