11 Mar 2012
JAKE FELENSTEIN - JOURNAL ENTRY NOVEMBER 19, 1974
November 19, 1974
I've decided to keep a journal. My intent is to attempt to reconcile my belief system with the changing world around me. I grew up on a hog and soybean farm in Iowa and received my undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from Kent State. I am, by nature, scientific in thought. The Kent State Massacre permanently forced me to reconcile my wants for a life of science with the needs of my country. I realized during the Kent State Riots, I was a Junior, that only reasonable action from within can create effective change without. This year I received my Masters from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs from Princeton. It was not an easy decision for me to decide on public service. There is only one thing I am sure of, I love my country. To this end I am willing to commit my life to ensure it's survival.
It is really important to me that I capture, once and for all, the events that have changed me forever. I am not alone, although, perhaps my response has been different than those around me. Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, I have chosen to become a part of the very system that has made me fear the future. On May 4th, 1970 I was an exceptional student, pragmatic in nature, not easily caught up in the thoughts and movements of those around me. I lived in Leebrick Hall referred to as the Tri Towers on campus. For me, campus living had always been a little trying. I grew up on a farm and don't really understand wild and raucous behavior. Earlier in the week of the 4th fellow students had built a swimming pool in the dorm lounge. Where was their respect of private property? Frankly, it continually amazed me the incredible stupidity of my contemporaries. While I was studying and attempting to understand the world around me they were smoking pot and using album covers shooting shaving cream under peoples doors.
Monday on my way to my first class of the day I passed assembling National Guardsman in the commons and ran into Ron, who was in the class with me, moving through the students gathering for a protest. As he passed he said, 'Class is cancelled Jake.' and passed by. I turned on my heals and started back towards the Tri Towers. Ron was about 30 feet in front of me. He was weaving through the students thronged in the parking lot and I was walking in the conduit he cleaved in the crowd. I heard the rapports of a rifles, heard the ba-ding of bullets bouncing off the asphalt around me and saw Ron throw himself to the ground as I was doing the same. When the bullets stopped I bolted from the ground past Ron towards the towers weaving every couple of paces to make targeting more difficult. I had no intention of being hit. I ran past a woman bleeding from her neck surrounded by other students. I ran past a student laying in a pool of his own blood. When I got to Leebrick the doors were locked. I panicked going from door to door until I finally found one that was open.
The students who the weekend before had playfully built a swimming pool in the lounge were gone. In their place milling about were horrified citizens, no longer students, but survivors of American democracy, tributes to the power of fear. Some would soon be fighting and dying in the jungles of Vietnam. Others, like Ron, would grow their hair long in protest and compete in Gymnastics meets. Still others would live a life in shock societal limbs never quite able to feed the body of America again.
My response to the Kent State Massacre was to understand the historical significance of the events that had occurred and to have a positive impact on the future of America. Next week I will be inducted into the FBI taking the exact same oath that the Kent State National Guardsman took before opening fire on innocent students protesting a war that was dubious at best:
'I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That I take this obligation freely - - without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. And that I will carry out the orders of the officers appointed over me, and that I will, faithfully and honorably do my duty, so help me, God.'
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