Looking at Flower Power

Flower Power was a symbol of passive resistance. It was a form of non-violent protest. Rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War the term was coined as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles. Young people embraced the movement by wearing clothes in bright colors and prints with embroidered flowers. They decorated themselves with flowers – wore garlands of woven flowers in their hair. But the most memorable tactic was the distribution flowers during protests by giving them to the police, soldiers, politicians and the public, becoming known as flower children. The iconic image of a young man inserting a flower into the barrel of a National Guardsman’s gun pretty much sums up the movement. It defined a moment in time. Ultimately it was a failure as the result was multiple deaths and injuries of unarmed and peaceful demonstrators on many college campuses in the US at the hands of National Guardsmen, policemen, and even active military personnel.

The shoot first mentality has persisted and grown stronger within the military. And where do many police forces recruit their new officers? From the military. Not a coincidence. In 1970, 4 students were killed and 9 injured when National Guards fired their guns into a group of students on the campus of Kent State. Ten days later 2 students were killed and 12 wounded in similar circumstances at Jackson State University. It took 4 years before the trial of the Guardsmen was concluded with the charges being dismissed. The judge stated in his ruling “It is vital that state and National Guard officials not regard this decision as authorizing or approving the use of force against demonstrators, whatever the occasion of the issue involved. Such use of force is, and was, deplorable.” Further then President Nixon established the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest, known as the Scranton Commission. The Commission concluded that the shootings were “unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.”

Rose a deep red recalls love’s sacrifice
A velvet reminder of love lost
Pluck the petal the soul entice
To recall death’s heavy cost
All flowers taunt the grave
Daisies ever white
Mock what they gave
Resist night
Too late

This Reverse Etheree is just a little remembrance that the more things change the more they stay the same. And no, I am not giving up hope for change nor am I going to stop trying to change myself and the world around me.

33 thoughts on “Looking at Flower Power

  1. Lovely poem!!!

    I was thinking of this very thing last night. We have that activism to thank for the development of an all-volunteer standing army that no one can protest because those people join because they want to. Seriously, the dark side is very intelligent and enduring. And there was also the Students for a Democratic Society that abandoned the non-violent approach. As for me, back then and now I think the best I can do is not make it worse. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not a fan of war or violence or even guns. Those who live by the sword often die by the sword… The National Guard is not deployed – instead we have “Homeland Security” and the border patrol. They’ve become tRump’s private army.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pacifism has always been sneered at by those who would control others by force. For those of us who abhor violence, it’s not a choice, it’s a way of life. We are not unpatriotic and we are not weak but we are weary, and sometimes feel we are not fit to live among wolves.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t expect to see rhymes in a reverse etheree, but they work well. And I was struck by “All flowers taunt the grave.” Libbies have been resisting the status quo for a long time. Finally, with the convergence of pandemic, recession, and BLM protests, I think we have the momentum to make things happen. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks bunches for the compliment! I like to think that the rhyming etheree should become a “thing”! I’m hoping the tipping point for change is soon and that it does not involve death or destruction.


  4. Wow Val! This is powerful in its message and so appropriate for this time in our lives. I would like to use this on one of my home blogs with credit to you. I love the poem. The tenderness of your heart and the strength of your passion is overwhelming in your words here.
    Please let me know if I can use this on my blog. Thank you.


    1. I’m so very happy that you think this is worthy of a repost and sharing with your readers!! By all means I give my permission! We are beset with so much trauma and drama on all sides. It is hard to take it all in and still have hearts that hold together well enough to keep beating…


        1. Thanks Zakiah! I have to admit that reading this comment made me immediately think “Wait! if I touched the Chordae tendinae would that cause an arrythmia?!” Anyway I’m more than pleased that this post made your heart sing (strumming those strings)!


    1. The protests usually start out peaceful enough but there are always agitators. And the federal agents in Portland seem to be bent on stirring up more anger and resentment instead of working to de-escalate the situation. In my town we’ve had ongoing dialogue and only peaceful protests… It is not over.


  5. There is so much about this summer that clangs the horrid memories of Kent State in my mind’s ear. Jackson State was somewhat downplayed by the media at the time, but in fact, it was even worse.


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