Stalking Vol 2: The Bridge of Reason
"K illing those students probably did more to gut America's drive to fight in Vietnam than
any other single event, because beneath the overt act lay the truth—even a nation of veterans
could see who the real cowards were."
"What were the national guardsmen afraid of?"
"Losing their assumptions, if they acknowledged the valid ity of the protest." She pouted
sadly, and added, "Which is exactly what they did."
"So the My Lai massacre would have done that, as well?"
"Absolutely. It gave people a real view of warfare." Bonnie hesitated before saying, "The
message was diminished by the delay in it becoming public, and subsequently lost when the
public shunned the returning veterans, as if warfare for Americans should somehow be cleaner
than it is for other countries. For the powers that be, it hammered home the need for the
sanitizing of their actions in their wars." She shook her head slowly. "Canada is no different—no
army is clean. They all kill civilians, they all kill prisoners, and they all kill each other if they are
pissed at someone in a place without rules."
I knew this was all true, so I said nothing.
"Are you aware of the number of Vietnam veteran suicides?"
"More than those killed in action, as many as sixty thousand. Why?"
"It’s much more than that," she said with her eyes closed. Then looking at me, "They were
thrown away when they came home, leaving them with no way to feel justified in their actions,
or compensated for their personal losses. In other words, left alone the momentum of their acts
and years of indoctrination manifest in the only way it could; it killed the m."
"I can see that, as well," I said, nodding intellectually.
"You haven't been moved by the scope of that tragedy, because you can't see how you are
little different from them." She reached over to take both of my hands in hers. "You were
practicing killing yourself when I came along."
"You don’t have to threaten me into continuing with this," I said, sliding mine away to look
at the bill, as if I was disinterested in it.
"You don’t have to interpret a logical comment as a threat, but your view of a hazardous
world—even here—demands that you do. Now," Bonnie said, leaning back, "Can you tell me
what Americans might have metaphorically seen in themselves at Kent State?"
Having no idea where we were heading, I took a few moments to organize what little I
knew. Finally, I said, "They killed four young people who were no physical threat to anyone. In
fact," I said, as the thought arrived, "they were killed for exercising a right upon which the nation
"Describe their physical and geographical status?" she said, her growing grin making no
sense to me.
"As far as I know, they were young whites being educated more or less in the heartland."
The weight of the event struck me. "They represented the American dream—innocence acting on
the unalterable expectation of prospering in a safer, freer society for what they were doing. A
couple shots killed the illusions."
"Before you take your customary time off to celebrate your wisdom, there's more for you to
consider. Let’s get out of here."