Impactful history surrounds Saratoga’s Kevin Moran Park

March 26, 2019 — by Kaitlyn Tsai and Mathew Luo

Maintenance supervisor Brian Moran, who has announced he will retire later in the year, is known for leading a crew that keeps the campus in good shape — everything from fixing broken air conditioners to maintaining the athletic fields. What is less known about him is that his older brother, Kevin Moran, passed away at age 22 on April 18, 1970, as he was trying to quell a riot against the Vietnam War while he was a student at UC Santa Barbara. In order to commemorate Kevin Moran’s life, the city of Saratoga built Kevin Moran Park shortly after his death. Today, the 10.3-acre park has children’s play areas, picnic tables and a tennis court among other features, and serves as a peaceful area for people to enjoy the outdoors.

Kevin Moran passed away just weeks before graduating from the university. The brothers were both graduates of Saratoga High. Nearing the 49-year anniversary of Kevin’s passing, Brian Moran spoke to The Falcon about how the event shaped his life.

 

Q: What was Kevin’s life at SHS like? What about his college life?

Moran: Kevin was the oldest in a family of ten. He was my older brother; we were five years apart. Just being the oldest of ten children, my parents expected a lot from him, and he delivered. He was good in athletics, baseball primarily. However, he also had a part-time job in his last two years of high school.

He worked down at Argonaut Shopping Center, there was a little restaurant there called the Ox Inn. He was a bus boy, a kitchen helper, and he had a paper route up until he was 16 or 17 years old. He was very industrious. He did excellent in school, got mostly A’s. He didn’t play high school athletics, but he was talented enough to play while having a part-time job. When he went to UC Santa Barbara, he joined the crew team. He did four years of crew.

 

Q: What was going on in the world and the U.S. during the 1970s?

Moran: In April 1970, during the Vietnam War, there were agitators, outside groups that were busting to protest the war in Vietnam. In Santa Barbara, some students, but mostly outside folks, came in to protest the war and proceeded to try to burn down a Bank of America once in February 1970, and again in April 1970. In terms of burning the bank down, they were partially successful. They also rolled over cop cars. They were rioting.

 

Q: How did these circumstances relate to Kevin’s passing?

Moran: The Santa Barbara police department was too small to handle the thing, not enough experience to handle riot situations. So they called over the LA Police Department. Previous to that, there was a call in the university from the student body president asking moderate students to go out to try to quell the crowd, to stop rioting and burning down the bank.

My brother and a number of his roommates went out. They were being pelted by rocks and bottles from the angry crowd, who knew they were the good guys telling them that this isn’t the way to solve problems. The crowd was angry.

Kevin and his roommates went in the bank to extinguish a fire and came out. There’s a bit of a mystery about how Kevin was shot. There was an inquest done, and apparently a police officer shot and hit a wire, causing the stray bullet to ricochet. It hit my brother at about one o’clock in the morning. He was rushed to the hospital, but he was dead on arrival. He passed away on April 18, 1970, just six weeks from graduating with an honors degree in economics.

 

Q: How did you react?
Moran: I was shocked, in disbelief, sad … the whole thing. It was sad, extremely difficult on our family.

UC Santa Barbara has a Kevin Moran scholarship. Then-governor Ronald Reagan contacted our family, and we received a letter from the White House. Saratoga decided to name a new park off Prospect and Scully Kevin Moran Park. They acknowledged him as a result of dying because of his actions.

 

Q: What part did you and your family have in the park’s construction?

Moran: The city came to us in 1971 when deciding to build the park. The whole family went to where the park would be built and gave a few short speeches, and the mayor was there. It was still an orchard when the spot was designated. But I didn’t have a personal part to play in creating the park.

 

Q: How do you and your family feel about the park’s commemorating your brother? How do you feel when you visit the park?

Moran: It was dedicated in 1971 or ‘72, in that era. We’re very delighted and proud that he was remembered in that way. We have some family functions down there from time to time.

 

Q: What do you hope people think of or remember when they visit Kevin Moran Park?

Moran: Why they named a park after Kevin Moran. A little bit of understanding his history is important so people can reflect on why it was named after Kevin. If they have some of that history, then maybe they can appreciate how he lived his life and what his last act was before his life was taken.

 

Q: What do you hope people learn from the incident of your brother’s passing?

Moran: One thing that is critical: What happens to people’s lives as a result of tragedy, while it can be very painful, can also be very positive. Kevin and his roommates were not so much driven by, ‘We’re going to protect property,’ as much as they were, ‘We need to do the right thing.’ And the right thing was to quiet the students and stop the riotous conditions.

That’s what I think we can learn from; we don’t have to form a committee and debate for hours what the right thing is. If you instinctively know what the right thing is, you can put it into place. A lot of times, you don’t have the time to think deeply about things, you have to respond quickly on something you feel is right. Someone is beating someone out on the street, you know that’s wrong. It would take courage to say, ‘Hey stop it,’ and to put yourself potentially in harm’s way to stop that.

Do the right thing in your life. If any challenges that come in your direction require immediate attention, and they help someone else, don’t hesitate. Don’t put yourself in serious physical jeopardy, but reach out, and help someone if they’re in need. Try to do the right thing.

Another thing, too, for students and for anyone, is that life is not guaranteed. Not everyone has a guarantee to live to 85, 90 years old. It may not be your plan to die at 22 like my brother. It’s good to have a sense to want to live a long, fulfilling life, but it’s not guaranteed, and life is precious. People can lose their lives at a young age.

 

Q: What does it mean to be hero?

Moran: The definition of a hero or heroic actions would be — it sounds cliche — going beyond the call of duty, getting involved even though it may be physically dangerous. If you see a child in a path of a car, and you respond without thinking, even though you might get killed in the process of saving a life, that would be a heroic action. Heroic actions don’t have to be large either; they can be small little things that no one sees. It’s fine if no one names a park after you, and you’re not the center of a magazine cover, like, ‘Look what I did!’ They can be little things where you just do the right thing when doing the right thing is difficult.

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