Letters to the Editor: A warning for American democracy from the Kent State massacre 50 years ago

Kent State University
Ohio National Guardsmen watch as students come to the aid of a protestor wounded by gunfire from the soldiers at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Thanks to columnist Nicholas Goldberg for his beautiful appreciation of Janis Joplin on the 50th anniversary of her death. He captured the many sides of her that made her voice so meaningful both to all of us who were young adults at the time, and to my parents, who felt she followed in the tradition of the great blues singers.

But when it comes to the question of whether her death marks the end of the 1960s, instead of focusing on the untimely deaths of counterculture icons, with an implication of self-destruction, look instead to another day 50 years ago when armed U.S. soldiers killed four students on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio.

That’s an event that did more to kill the movement of the 60s, and we should heed the warning of that horrible day as the current administration has sent armed federal officers into the streets to threaten and harm peaceful protesters.


If this continues, more than era will end — we might just lose our democracy too. But today, I will listen once again to Janis and live in the moment to “get it while I can.”

Bonnie Voland, Los Angeles