Monday, May 3, 2010

40 Years Ago, Where Were You?

Sure, I always wondered when and where my next run would be, but 40 years ago today, I was a journalism student and member of the reporting staff for The Daily Egyptian at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. It was May 4, 1970 and four Kent State students had just been killed by national guardsmen as the U.S. expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia It was a troubling time, and protest, violence and destruction took place at college campuses across the country. Our staff at the Daily Egyptian won a national award for its coverage of the events and eventual closure of the school in May, 1970, something I am very proud of to this day. Here is part of what I wrote for a staff reunion last week, which I was unable to attend.
"I was present at various places at various times as a student and as a journalist during the unforgettable days of early May, 1970. What I remember specifically from a journalistic standpoint was being called off of sports by my bosses at the Daily Egyptian and sent to cover the unrest and destruction going on at Woody Hall. I recall standing inside the building, notepad in hand, while rocks came through windows from one side and police stood their ground on the other. I recall being very scared and very excited to be covering such a thing at such a young age. I took my notes, which included descriptions of the destruction, and headed back to the DE office. There, my notes were added to those of many other fellow DE reporters and used in the long story that appeared the next morning.
"I also recall rounding up information on what would happen to the SIU athletic teams. Most were planning to carry on, but some were canceling events or scaling down, including the track team. Other universities were experiencing the same thing. It was a very unique type of sports coverage I never duplicated in my career at Pioneer Press, the Milwaukee Sentinel and the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Finally, I was a senior during the unrest, protests and violence that took place at SIU in May, 1970, after the Kent State deaths and the U.S. escalation into Cambodia, and had a good level of stress about all of it because I was No. 10 in the draft lottery. I was able to "stall" my graduation ceremony until June, 1971, but still was in the Army two weeks later. I can honestly say my SIU journalism degree might have saved my life or at least prevented me from going into the infantry. I was the only draftee in America in the summer of 1971 who had a journalism degree, and the Army wanted one to serve as an information specialist in Washington, D.C. The job was mine. Thank you, SIU!"
Anyway, thanks to you runners for letting me voice my deep feelings about a unique period in our history. By the way, I did quite a bit of running in the Army! I remember once running a 5:32 mile in combat boots. I couldn't run a 5:32 mile today, period!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this, Bob. I wasn't around first-hand for these events, but I deeply respect the impact that they have had on my parents. The 5:32 mile in combat boots is wildly impressive!

Bob Richards said...

How old are your parents? I love the popularity of "boot camp" these days. The real thing was quite different!

Anonymous said...

Your right Bob!

I was in Boot camp June of 2002 and kind smirk when I read up on these "Boot Camps" offered to the regular folk...not sure if that is what you were referring far as running in combat boots, when I was in BUDS training, we had to pretty much maintain a 6:30 pace in the sand for roughly 5 miles in heavily soaked pants. I think about that when people sometimes talk about shoes and the weight of them. It's all in your head. Keep up the great work!! I love this site.