Celebrating ‘May the Fourth’ in Colorado? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t
I love Star Wars. For all its faults in storytelling, it is one of my favorite science fiction series of all time, as I'm sure it is for almost everybody else in the world. A not-insignificant amount of my life has been spent on this franchise, even before it was acquired by Disney and became ubiquitous. Even the name of my son has ties to George Lucas's epic space drama, because yes, I am that kind of nerd.
I love Star Wars, except for one day, every year when I absolutely hate it.
That day is May 4, which Star Wars fans (who are more passionate in Colorado than almost anywhere else) have dubbed 'Star Wars Day', because saying, "May the Fourth," sounds a lot like the iconic Jedi farewell from the series: "May The Force be with you."
Now, I appreciate a fan base's desire to celebrate the pop culture that they love, but designating May 4 as 'Star Wars Day' because it kind-of-sort-of sounds like a line from the movie is actually quite offensive, especially if you're from the state of Ohio. This might be news in Colorado, so let me give you a brief history of what happened on May 4, 1970, at Kent State University.
May 4th, 1970
On May 1st, 1970, students at Kent State University gathered on campus to protest the expansion of the US war in Vietnam into Cambodia, which had been announced the previous day. After dispersing, plans were made for another rally on Monday, May 4th. Unfortunately, a minor riot broke out over the weekend in the town of Kent, and with threats and unconfirmed rumors of more violence to come, the Ohio Army National Guard was called in. In response, arsonists set fire to the campus's ROTC building on May 2.
By the time Monday rolled around, tensions were high and members of Kent State faculty were actively trying to keep the planned rally from happening, lest it further inflame the issue. Nevertheless, students did gather in the Commons that day, initially quiet and peaceful. That's when the National Guard attempted to disperse the crowd.
After protesters resisted initial calls to disperse, the Guard began to fire tear gas into the crowd, though this was mostly ineffective. Continued attempts to disperse the crowd failed, so 96 National Guard troops were ordered to advance on the protesters. Though their weapons were loaded, they were given orders to only fire into the sky.
The advancing Guard fired more tear gas, and this time the protesters began to disperse. Before they did, they also began to throw some rocks. Students retreated up Blanket Hill, and once over, headed toward Taylor Hall. Guardsmen followed them over the hill, rocks were thrown at them the entire time, eventually boxing themselves into an athletic practice field with no way to go but back the way they came. So, that's exactly what they did; retracing their steps back up Blanket Hill. The protesters followed them.
After retreating back up Blanket Hill, and without any verbal warning to the crowd, guardsmen turned and opened fire on the protesters that had followed them. According to reports, the shooting lasted about 13 seconds. The result was 4 dead, and 9 wounded. All were unarmed.
May 4 should be a reminder of what happened on that day in 1970, not a reminder of how the dumbest things can catch on and become popular. That's why I make no apologies for being hostile toward Star Wars on May 4th, and again, this is coming from someone who loves Star Wars.
You can have two thoughts at once, and you can come up with a better day to celebrate your favorite movie, preferably one that doesn't disrespect the memory of American citizens. Until you do find a new day to celebrate Star Wars, if you absolutely need something to celebrate in early May, well there's always Cinco de Mayo.