By Melissa Turosik
David Brown and his girlfriend attended an anti-Vietnam War rally at Youngstown State University, and a photograph of the pair appeared on the front page of the Jambar on Oct. 27, 1970.
Brown said he was listening to the speakers and was interested in what was occurring at the rally.
“We were kind of engaged with everything going on and lo and behold, one day I picked up the Jambar and there we were on the front cover,” Brown said.
Brown said he was “flabbergasted” when he discovered his picture on the front page.
“I was kind of humbled by it,” Brown said. “I’m not the type of person that minds being front and center, but I don’t look to be the front and center of anything.”
Brown said he cannot remember much about that rally, but it was peaceful.
“If you were at one [anti-war rally], you were at all of them because fundamentally nobody in our age group wanted that war to be going on,” Brown said.
Prior to the YSU protest, students gathered at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.
Members of the Ohio National Guard fired at unarmed student protesters at KSU during the protest, killing four and injuring nine others.
Brown said he learned about the KSU protests by reading the Jambar. He said he was taken aback by the KSU shootings and told himself this violence should not occur on a school campus.
Keith Robert’s late wife, Denise Roberts, was on the campus of KSU when the shootings occurred.
“May 4, another demonstration began with speakers at the Victory Bell located in The Commons, which is in the rear of Taylor Hall,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the National Guard dispersed the crowd with tear gas and protestors were provoking members of the Guard.
Roberts said the Guard started shooting and his wife, Denise, and hid behind a Volkswagen.
“When the shooting stopped she came out of hiding, and there was screaming from her friends and classmates, blood everywhere, students bleeding and dying in front of her,” Roberts said.
Brown said he never enlisted into the service and was never drafted. He said he was petrified of the thought of going to fight in the Vietnam War.
“I’m a lover not a fighter. If I’m backed into a corner, I’ll do what I need to do and I was that way back then and that part of me has not changed,” Brown said. “I’ve become more confident in who I am and I still wouldn’t want to go to war.”
Brown said he feels honored to be a part of history.
“Not that I played any significant role in anything going on but if a picture means anything then yes, I did play a role and I feel privileged to be a part of anything that might leave a mark on the world in some way,” Brown said.
Great job reporting on this important event in American history, Melissa. Denise told me that she learned 3 things from her experience on May 4, 1970. That there will always be war, that the United States government will always kill people to stop them from killing other people, and that a paranoid President Nixon, a vicious and hateful Governor James Rhodes, and a few National Guardsmen can, in fact, violate the 1st Amendment, quash American dissent, and get away with it. Governor James Rhode stated at a news conference in Kent, Ohio on May 3rd that the students were “worse than the Brownshirts (Nazis), and the Communist element, and also the Night Riders, and the vigilantes. They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America.” Governor Rhodes was never investigated for sending in National Guardsmen armed with fully loaded M-1 rifles, bayonet tipped no less, to settle a protest of 18-22 year old unarmed college students who were sick of the war in Vietnam and sick of having their friends and older brothers of their friends coming home in flag draped coffins. I missed the Vietnam draft by 2 and a half months. The draft officially ended in June of 1973. I didn’t turn 18 until September of 1973. Saigon finally fell to the North Vietnamese Communists in May of 1975. And so ended our involvement in Vietnam. 58,220 American lives were lost over that 16 year period and for what? We were not defending a Democracy since South Vietnam was a Monarchy at the time. But President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, and the McCarthyism era cronies back in 1959 were so paranoid that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists then the Domino Effect would take place whereby Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Malaysia (essentially all of Indochina) would also fall to the Communists (which never did happen by the way).
History is an extremely important teacher, Melissa. George Santayana, a Philosophy Professor at Harvard, once said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana also said of human nature, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
Great job reporting, Melissa. Keep researching, writing and reporting and you’ll be a Senior Editor at The Washington Post one day!
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