Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4 massacre

Forty years ago today, four students--college-age children--were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University while protesting the American invasion of Cambodia in the Vietnam War.

The American invasion had been announced by President Richard Nixon on April 30.  On that fateful day in Kent, about 2,000 students were protesting this new escalation of a war which had become more and more contentious domestically.  The University administration attempted to stop the protest by handing out 12,000 leaflets, stating that the event was cancelled.  And, the National Guard was called in hopes of keeping the peace, given violence which had taken place on campus the prior day.

At Noon, the Guard used tear gas to try to disperse the protestors only to have the cannisters flung back at them along with rocks and other debris.  According to reports, the Guard then fixed bayonets and advanced on the protesters, forcing them to retreat.  Ultimately, a stalemate of sorts occurred with many in the crowd dispersing.  Several stayed on and continued to shower the Guard with abusive language and rocks.  A shot rang out followed by a volley--a total of 67 rounds shot over a period of 13 seconds. On the ground lay four dead and nine wounded--the Kent State Massacre.

John Filo was a photographer at the scene and shot this Pulitzer Prize winning photograph--it pictures Mary Ann Vecchio distraught and kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller, one of the four dead.

The event inspired the song Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and was the impetus for a nationwide strike by four million students.  And, public opinion, already growing increasingly negative about the war, became even more affected due to the tragedy.

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