Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kent State Massacre - 40 Years On

John Filo's iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a fourteen-year-old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller after he was shot dead by the Ohio National Guard.

From the National Post Article Kent State Massacre 40 years on: Why four died in Ohio:

It’s been 40 years since four died in Ohio.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State University. These deaths — William Schroeder, Sandra Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause — at the hands of the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970, persist as a significant historical marker.

The incident is today seen as the moment the free-spirited idealism of the Sixties collided head-on with the state’s deadly coercive powers. A nation’s youth, attempting to exercise their rights to free speech and assembly, were deliberately gunned down by their own government.

That the deaths were immortalized in iconic photos and the song Ohio by the band Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, which still receives substantial airplay today, has solidified the incident’s stature as a signature moment in modern social and cultural history.

But here’s another way of looking at it. Kent State was one of the biggest blunders ever committed by the American military.

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This incident had a profound effect on me at the time and throughout the forty years since it happened. The images have often popped into my mind, especially when I listen to Cosby, Stills, Nash and Young's song 'Ohio':

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?



  1. I was either a little too young or far removed geographically and politically from the USA for this incident to have made an impact on me. I wasn't even really aware of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, etc. until much later. I can only remember being affected somehow by the assassination of JFK and even then I would have known so little of him when he was gunned down. Living in Canada I think there was a different sensibility and during those times of war, upheaval, etc., so many Americans dodged the draft by coming to Canada. (I see in the youtube video, Neil Young, the famous Canadian folkie).

  2. Thanks for your detailed comment Joyful - yes, Neil young is one of my favorites ...

  3. I guess these terrible things do need to be remembered.

  4. Thanks for your visit and comments Glennis ...

  5. Memories are all we have of all these terrible things that happened so long ago, for some much stronger than others. It is good though that the blogs also remind people what has happened in history. The C S & N is a constant reminder as well. Thanks for the 40 year reminder. So sad for the families involved. Diane

  6. Thanks for the comment Diane ...

  7. That's one of the great things about your blog - the fact that it is so diverse & makes us really think about different things outside our 'comfort zone'.

    As Joyful pointed out, I think that I, too, was removed geographically/politically from the US at this stage, and cannot remember the incident - as in 1970 I was a child growing up in then (pre Independent) Rhodesia. Thanks for remembering this on your blog today !

  8. Thanks Lynda - although I was in South Africa at the time, I grew up on a healthy diet of 'Mad Magazine' and other American comics, ... also, with our border war and the "Love Generation" I took a particular interest in the Vietnam war ... that's why I was so affected by the events of that day ...