At Woodstock, Ethel reinvented herself as Poppy Birch, a suedonym she carried with her to school. She wore her hair long and listened to the music her mother and always called "distasteful." She was excited by life and by the possiblities around her. She did well in school and soon found herself on the school newspaper staff writing articles on campus activities. While it was mundane for the most part, Poppy soon found something that caught her attention. While she had never been very politically minded, she was curious by the number of students across the country who were against the Vietnam War. She began to research the war, and to research why her generation was so against it. In the spring of 1970 she, and a fellow student were given the chance to travel to Kent State University to attend a protest. it was there on that fateful day of May 4th 1970, that Poppy witnessed the Kent State Massacre. It shocked and appaled Poppy that students were killed and wounded for practicing their right to their own oppinion. She returned home confused, angered, and filled with a sense of urgency. She knew that she, that her peers and herself, were responsible for changing the future. That if they did not like what their parents and grandparents had done before them, it was up to them to change that. It was up to them to question the world and say "no, we will not settle." Three weeks later her brother Dick was drafted into the United States Marine Corps.
It wasn't until Dick's draft that the war really hit home for Poppy. She began organizing protests herself, and going to any she could attend. The following summer, Poppy found herself looked down on in her hometown. The people dismissed her radical ideas and whispered about her indecency (she had given up on wearing a bra her fifth week of school when she couldn't find a clean one). Her own parents wanted little to do with her. Dick, however, was praised as a hero despite the fact that he hadn't even been deployed yet. Little did they know Dick's oppinons on being drafted and on the war at large. Each letter he sent his little sister was filled with encoragment to speak her mind and let the voice of their generation be heard. Dick was deployed in the fall of 1970 and his letters continued to Poppy until right after New Years. She didn't hear from him for two months before her mother called her to inform Poppy that Dick had been killed in combat. Poppy was angry, but she used her anger to fuel her determination to help end the war.
P.S. Happy 4th of July!