Originally posted on May 3, 2009
May 4, 1970: Four students murdered, nine wounded by National Guardsmen, on the campus of Kent State in Kent, Ohio.
Allison Krause, William Schroeder, Jefferey Miller and Sandra Scheuer were killed in the 13 second fusillade of 67 shots fired by the Guardsmen, after an order to fire was given.
No one has ever been held accountable for this massacre. And no one will ever be. But we won’t forget.
For YouTube videos of the massacre, go here.
(The above was originally posted May 4, 2008.)
“Four dead in Ohio,” sang Crosby Stills Nash and Young. It was an event and song that described a generation. It became an anthem to many, as a remembrance to a horrible, murderous day – a day when the Vietnam War came home.
“The chickens have come home to roost,” the saying goes.
Another saying that anti-war protesters had chanted back then was: “Bring the war home!”
The National Guardsmen beat us to it.
How the Hell Did Things Get So Bad ….
You have to go back to the historical context to really understand how things got so bad that National Guardsmen opened up with live bullets on defenseless demonstrators on a college campus in middle America. (Here’s one account.)
In 1968 Richard Nixon was elected with his promise to end the Vietnam War, a war that President Johnson had beefed up substantially after taking over when JFK was assassinated. Significant anti-war protests had been occurring and increasing in intensity since 1965. They grew so intense that they forced Johnson to bow out of the ’68 presidential contest. With the Democrats themselves split over the very issue of the War – a split bloodily manifested in the streets of Chicago during Mayor Daley’s romp against demonstrators – Nixon was able to nudge past Hubert Humphrey and enter the White House as the “peace candidate”.
But when Nixon actually expanded the war in Southeast Asia by invading Cambodia / Kampucha in the early Spring of 1970 – the kids – the college kids who were the foot soldiers of the anti-war movement – went ballistic.
College and high school campuses across the nation exploded in protests. Sit-ins, take-overs of campus buildings and ROTC facilities were commonplace.
Even in San Diego
It was true, that even in San Diego, colleges campuses were on fire -so to speak. Here’s how we described it in our earlier histories:
San Diego Campuses Explode
San Diego university and college campuses were no exception to the explosive nature of protest at this point. San Diego State was shut down. At UCSD, a widely-supported student strike had rendered the La Jolla campus quiet except for the hub-bub of strike activities, leafleting, teach-ins, rallies, bonfires at night…
In early May striking students from college campuses all around San Diego county wanted to show their unity in opposing the war; the idea was to stage one joint action to protest the widening US involvement by targeting one prime military facility. At the planning meeting attended by hundreds of students from SDSU, UCSD, Cal-Western, City College, the community colleges, a few high schools, various ideas were thrown about, until almost by universal acclamation, the target was decided: the Naval Electronics Laboratory up in Point Loma.
So, one early weekday morning in mid-May, 3,000 students converged at the entrance of the Lab along Catalina Boulevard –in the usually sedate and conservative neighborhood of Point Loma. The entrance to the military facility was effectively blocked by the sheer numbers of students walking across the boulevard, bringing business at the Lab to a halt for several hours. No disrespect was shown drivers, there was no violence, no arrests were made, — just a solemn slow-moving mass of people circulating in front of the entrance — San Diego Police officers hung back, their numbers entirely dwarfed by those of the protesters.
A week into the student strike, California Governor Ronald Reagan — who could not appear at a college campus without causing a disturbance — signed an order closing all the state university and college campuses. This gubernatorial decree effectively ended — for awhile at least – the college bases of the anti-war movement in California.
We do remember. Please save a quiet moment today for these martyrs. There is also a commemoration at Kent State today. The 39th Kent State Commemoration. Check this out.