Remembering Kent State | Learning From One Dark Moment 50 Years Ago Today
“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming…we’re finally on our own…this summer I hear the drumming… four dead in Ohio…”
It was 50 years ago today, May 4, 1970, following a first protest on May 1st, when about 300 students at Kent State University in Ohio, which is near Cleveland, gathered on the school’s “Commons,” a grassy field on campus to protest Richard Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. After that May 1st demonstration, it spread like wildfire that there would be another and probably bigger protest by the students on the Commons on May 4th. After the occurrences on May 1st, the Ohio National Guard was brought on campus by order of Ohio Governor James Rhodes and the troops, with their adrenaline pumping, were positioned on the Commons for what they anticipated to occur at noon on the 4th.
As rumored and expected, the students did gather on the Commons on the 4th at noon and the troops were there, in battle formation, and armed with tear gas, smoke grenades, and assault rifles, but unbeknownst to the protestors and incredible to even fathom, the National Guards’ rifles were loaded with live ammunition. As the protestors moved across the Commons, the troops were given the order to fire at will, supposedly to protect themselves. The students were unarmed. They came in peace. They were there to express their rights of free speech on the grounds of their University, their “home” at that point in their lives… and what should have been a safe and protected haven to demonstrate their outrage at the illegal war that was tearing our country apart and killing thousands of our boys.
What came next was nothing short of an unspeakable tragedy that sent shockwaves throughout this country, especially on college campuses and in high schools. Campus unrest over the disgrace of the Vietnam war had been going on for years, but after the Kent State Massacre, the movement was on steroids from that point on. On May 4th 1970, at Kent State University, innocent and unarmed university students were cut down by assassins’ bullets, with four of them shot dead; viciously murdered in the sunrise of their lives by government soldiers with orders to shoot to kill.
So today, especially during a time of such confusion and fear during this pandemic, we think it is important to stop for a moment and remember what happened 50 years ago today, and reflect on how fragile our individual freedoms and rights really are, and how life can be snatched away from any of us at any moment without warning.
Please…WEAR YOUR MASKS, STAY HOME, WASH YOUR HANDS and OBSERVE SOCIAL DISTANCING… care enough about yourself, your family and OTHERS to do these things! Care about our country!
But, let us not forget the four innocents who were slaughtered on May 4, 1970 at Kent State University; Jeffrey Miller (from Plainview), Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder. They did not however, die in vain.
The insanity and travesty of the Vietnam War and what was done to the poor people of Cambodia finally ended, only due to the unification of students’ voices and actions, with thousands upon thousands of them standing together throughout this country and in other countries as well… and the enemy, which we of that generation saw as being our warmongering and criminal President Nixon and his Administration, was finally taken down and defeated. What we are experiencing now will end as well, but just like those tumultuous divisive times long ago, and specifically, 50 years ago today in Ohio, we all must stand together to bring down this current enemy.
Be Safe & Be Well
Robert B. Pollack, Esq.