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Kent State Massacre - 40th Anniversary
May 4, 1970
Forty years ago today, US National Guard troops using live ammunition, fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds into an unarmed crowd demonstrating against the US invasion of Cambodia, killing four innocent students and wounding nine. Those killed were; Sandra Scheuer, Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller and William Schroeder. Within several days four million students on campuses across the nation went out on strike effectively shutting down our University system.
At KSU I wanted to continue creating photographs so I joined the staffs of the university newspaper and yearbook. This was exactly what I wanted. This gave me a lot of freedom to photograph a wide variety campus life. After about a year, I applied to be the editor of the yearbook, which covers university activities from spring through the following fall. I had just been told that I would be the editor for the 1971 book, the Chestnut Burr, the week before the students were killed on May 4, 1970. The campus was very quiet that spring; there had been no rallies or protest about the Vietnam war and the quarter was almost over.
The first rally occurred on May 1, the day after President Nixon announced that the United States would invade Cambodia. Over that weekend, several protests took place on campus. The National Guard was brought in and tensions began to rise almost immediately.
Mr. Ruffner's Kent State Gallery
By John Kifner
Special to The New York Times
Kent, Ohio, May 4 -- Four students at Kent State University, two of them women, were shot to death this afternoon by a volley of National Guard gunfire. At least 8 other students were wounded.
The burst of gunfire came about 20 minutes after the guardsmen broke up a noon rally on the Commons, a grassy campus gathering spot, by lobbing tear gas at a crowd of about 1,000 young people.
In Washington, President Nixon deplored the deaths of the four students in the following statement:
"This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy. It is my hope that this tragic and unfortunate incident will strengthen the determination of all the nation's campuses, administrators, faculty and students alike to stand firmly for the right which exists in this country of peaceful dissent and just as strong against the resort to violence as a means of such expression."
In Columbus, Sylvester Del Corso, Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard, said in a statement that the guardsmen had been forced to shoot after a sniper opened fire against the troops from a nearby rooftop and the crowd began to move to encircle the guardsmen.
On May 4th, 2010 Kent State University holds special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the fatal shooting of four students.
At a relatively quiet, small, unknown rural college in northeast Ohio, during a now unforgettable week in early May in 1970, students had spent four days protesting against the announcement of an expanding Vietnam War into Cambodia. The rallies ended on May 4th, 1970 with four students fatally shot and nine others wounded by Ohio National Guard troops trying to quell the anti-war protests.
Forty-years later, Kent State University is making strides to remember and honor those students. There is a May 4 Memorial, a historic marker detailing the events, and a memorial marker in the parking for each of the four students who died that day. Future plans include erecting a May 4 Visitors Center to sit on top of the hill that was a central location in the tragic shootings.
This year, Kent State will hold a special ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new May 4 Memorial and Walking Tour located on the historic site. Attendees can take one of the expert-guided tours or complete a self-guided tour. The recently awarded National Register of Historic Places plaque will also be on display.
IN PROTEST: This May 1970 file photo shows demonstrators showing their sign of protest as ROTC cadets parade at Ohio State University during a ceremony in Columbus, Ohio during the Vietnam War. Denied a graduation ceremony because of student unrest in 1970, graduates of several universities are finally getting a commencement in special ceremonies this spring.
CINCINNATI – Forty years later, Gary Lownsdale is still haunted by what he felt and what he saw in the last days of his senior year.
Shock and outrage over the May 4 National Guard slayings of four Kent State University students, on the other end of Ohio from his University of Cincinnati campus. Then fear and confusion as schools across the state and much of the country saw the demonstrations against the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia swell into angry, combative confrontations.
One by one, colleges closed and students were ordered to pack up and leave, some amid the acrid smell of tear gas as police and armed soldiers stood guard. TV helicopters buzzed overhead. Rumors and reports were rampant, of undercover FBI agents infiltrating students, or violent radicals converging to escalate the protests.
By Thomas Wills
by Rick Perloff
Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'.
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