Photos had power

I was thirteen and vividly remember the news coverage and especially the photos in this issue of Life. I also vividly remember the massacre at Jackson State about the same day but alas, there were no skilled photographers on hand and it slipped from the public memory quickly as a lot of the massacres in the South did, and still do. But Kent State was beautifully photographed in a time when photographs had an impact that they don’t today. We remember those times and we hear the music, the famous voices, and the photographs. It was a simpler time. And if you spend a minute looking at the details of this cover photo—this issue of Life was on coffee tables and supermarket stands all across America that week—you can feel the emotions welling up, the outrage and sadness, and get a hint of what so many Americans felt seeing this in 1970. Photos had power. Nowadays not so much. Digital cameras can take so many photographs they overwhelm us. Few stick in our mind. There are no school massacre photos that everyone vividly remembers. The details of the dead students just become statistics, numbers. The photos of Kent State and My Lai are iconic. If only there were photos of the victims of school shootings and mass murders that were iconic now. They’d have political power. And we’d have much stricter laws on assault weapons, not just thoughts and prayers.

Last rites.