Friday, May 02, 2008

May 4, 1970

"Those few days after Kent State were among the darkest of my Presidency"
Richard Nixon (Click here)

Pretty damn dark, I'd say.






I don't know that there has been an event in history during my lifetime that precipitated any more of a change in me than this one.
This picture still haunts me.

“From my Post last year
“…on the Horizon loomed an event so great that many of those that had been unsure about the War, and the protest, would become fanatics against the War. Up to and including everyday housewives and former members of the Establishment.”

6 comments:

soubriquet said...

Ohio, Crosby Stills Nash and Young.
Lyrics Neil Young.

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

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning 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

Ah, la la la la...

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning 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

Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming
We're finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio
Jerry Casale:- "Nobody believed that the guns were actually loaded with live ammo. They just suddenly formed a row. The first one knelt and the second one stood, and they just shot right into the crowd, shot at all of us, down the hill at all of us. The worst thing about it is that 2 of the 4 students killed weren't part of the demonstration, weren't part of an antiwar group. They'd just come out of class from the journalism building at that time and come out on their way to their next class and were looking at the protest, just seeing what the hell's going on, and they got killed. The bullets just went everywhere, it was like a scatter-gun approach, like shooting geese. A lot of the bullets went over the heads of the protesters and kept going straight down the hill. One of the kids that's paralyzed for life was getting into his car to leave campus after his class, and they shot him in the back. He was at least 200 yards away and wanted nothing to do with what was going on. It was shocking. It pretty much knocked any hippie that I had left in me right out of me that day.
I had been a member of the honors college and the only way I went to school was with a scholarship. My family was poor and I got a scholarship to go to school. What I had to do every year to earn my scholarship was work 3 months in the summer for the university admitting new students to the honors college, the incoming freshman, and helping them arrange their curriculum, taking them through the registration process. The summer before May 4th, I had befriended Jeffery Miller and Allison Krause, 2 honor students, and they turn out to be 2 of the 4 killed on May 4th. So I'd known both of them 9 months before this happened, and so when I realized that this girl on her stomach with a huge exit wound in her back with blood running down the sidewalk was Allison, I nearly passed out. I sat down on the grass and kind of swooned around and lied down. I was in shock, I couldn't move.
The government and the press tried to lie about what happened as well as they could. The fact that anybody knows what happened is amazing because they did such a good job of muddying it up and lying, it was amazing. The final chapter there was that the parents of the students who were shot and killed banded together and went on a class action suit against Governor Rhodes and the state of Ohio and the National Guard, and summarily lost across the board. These kids that were shot were 18 and 19 years old. 2 of them were 18 and 2 of them were 19. They lost because by law, no one was allowed to be having a protest once Martial Law was declared, and they threw it out of the court system. I don't think anyone wants to know the truth. It ruins the myth of freedom in America to find out how easily it can be gone."

Barbara said...

Our generation really struggled with that war. I'm thinking the current war efforts could ultimately go the same way. The difference is today's youth don't give a damn because there is no draft. Makes a HUGE difference.

GrizzBabe said...

Very sobering. What strikes me about the photo is, of course, the body lying on the ground and the greiving woman, but also, the way the students seem to be just sort of wandering around as if this were a normal occurance.

soubriquet said...

Steve, like you, I remember those days. Anti Vietnam war protests were everywhere, the music reflected the mood, yet then, as now, there was a strong lobby of people who held that if you didn't support the government in all things, then you were the enemy. Europe was spooked by huge marches and student unrest, sit-ins, protests, echoing the situation in america.
Britain was not directly involved in Vietnam, although they had fought a communist insurgency in Malaya. As in America, this was not officially a war. Just a policing action. The dead were just as dead, but the widows did not get a war widow's pension. No medals.
I remember, about this time in 1970, hearing about the deaths in Kent State, that American troops had opened fire on teenage Americans. I could not believe it.
I was sixteen then.
Grizzbabe:
New York Times,By John Kifner
Kent, Ohio, May 4 .
When the firing stopped, a slim girl, wearing a cowboy shirt and faded jeans, was lying face down on the road at the edge of the parking lot, blood pouring out onto the macadam, about 10 feet from this reporter.
The youth stood stunned, many of them clustered in small groups staring at the bodies. A young man cradled one of the bleeding forms in his arms. Several girls began to cry. But many of the students who rushed from the scene seemed almost too shocked to react.
The Pic Steve used is of Jeffrey Miller, He was about 240 feet away from the National Guard line, Sergeant Lawrence Shafer bragged about "taking a bead on him".
The girl kneeling was Mary Vecchio, then a fourteen year old runaway, now a grandmother. Police found her and took her back to her family in Florida. The then governor of Florida, Claude Kirk said she was a 'dissident communist'. The dissident communist went back to Westview Junior High.
Journalism student John Filo took the photograph. Here's what he said:
"I think what was going through my mind, quite frankly, was that I was just shot at, and I was doing a self-check. "Was I shot?" And I wanted to take a picture of the guard shooting because I thought they were using blanks. And as I was about to take the picture, and this was after dodging students who were running off the steep walkway away from the guard, I remember that.
The bullets were supposed to be blanks. When I put the camera back to my eye, I noticed a particular guardsman pointing at me. I said, "I'll get a picture of this," and his rifle went off. And almost simultaneously, as his rifle went off, a halo of dust came off a sculpture next to me, and the bullet lodged in a tree.
( The bullet passed through the steel-plate sculpture)

I dropped my camera in the realization that it was live ammunition. I don't know what gave me the combination of innocence and stupidity... but I never took cover. I was the only one standing at the hillside. After I did that self-check and turned slowly to my left, what caught my eye on the street was the body of Jeffrey Miller and the volume of blood that was flowing from his body was as if someone tipped over a bucket. I started to flee--run down the hill and stopped myself. "Where are you going?" I said to myself, "This is why you are here!"

And I started to take pictures again. And the picture I made then was of Jeffrey Miller's body lying in the street and people starting to come out of shelter, and then a picture where Mary Vecchio was just entering the frame. I knew I was running out of film. I could see the emotion welling up inside of her. She began to sob. And it culminated in her saying an exclamation. I can't remember what she said exactly … something like, "Oh, my God!"

Question from cap0cap: Did the National Guardsmen seem to care what they had done?

John Filo: No. That was evident in that the squad that came over to examine the body of Jeffrey Miller was armed -- six or seven of them. No one even bent down to get a closer look. The sergeant who did not have a rifle rolled the body of Jeffrey Miller over with his boot. That incensed some people. The soldiers regrouped and backed away from the body and away from the crowd of people ... It could have taken 5 minutes. It is hard to calculate time."

Old Lady said...

Then there is being the daughter of a military man who fought the war...I agreed with the protest more so,because I saw what war can do to a man and a father.

steve said...

Souby, its good to know that you guys were feeling it over there too.
It affects me to this day.

thanks everybody for y6our comments