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"They Should Have Shot Them All" -- Kent State Aftermath

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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 04:55 PM
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"They Should Have Shot Them All" -- Kent State Aftermath
At 12:24 PM on May 4, 1970, twenty-eight Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on the Kent State campus. When the shooting stopped, four students lay dead or dying while an additional nine had suffered wounds ranging from minor to life-threatening. The shootings had lasted thirteen seconds but legal repercussions would continue for nearly a decade.

This is Part IV in my series on the Kent State shootings. Part I looked at Nixon's curiously timed announcement of the Cambodian invasion and the May Day rally at Yale University. Part II examined the events of May 1-3 at Kent while Part III explored the events of that fateful Monday, May 4.

In memory of Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder, and Sandy Scheuer, join me in exploring the aftermath.


* * *

(First, let me apologize that it has taken three weeks to continue this series. The reaction to my May 4 diary was absolutely overwhelming and it left me emotionally and physically exhausted. This, then, is offered as a bonus edition in the series, dealing with the immediate aftermath. Part V will cover the legal aftermath. Now, on with the story)

News of the shootings spread quickly across the country that May afternoon. The first reports claimed that two Guardsmen had been shot. Whether disinformation or a mistake, many heard this news and took it as evidence of the deadly intent of the student protesters. However, within hours, the truth of students shot and killed overtook the earlier rumors. As parents and friends tried to connect with those in Kent, the phone lines jammed and then, in mid-afternoon, crashed. The inability to get accurate information in or out heightened anxieties. For four families, the incomprehensible news of the shootings would give way to the heartbreaking realization that their children were gone forever.

Sarah Scheuer was painting the house on May 4, her twenty-seventh wedding anniversary, when she heard news of the shooting. She immediately tried to call Sandys house but it took several hours to get through. When she finally did, one of Sandys roommates told her that she better come right away: "Sandy's in the hospital, but that's all we know right now." The roommate also told Sarah that Sandys wallet was still in the house. Sarah then called Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna and asked whether there was a wounded girl, dressed in a red shirt and blue jeans, with no identification. The administrator she spoke with wasnt sure but confirmed that at least one of the injured girls had no identification. Sarah and her husband, Martin, quickly left their home in Boardman, near Youngstown, for Ravenna. At the hospital, they asked about Sandy. A police officer overheard them and, assuming theyd heard the news, asked if they had come to identify the body. Still hoping there was a mistake, Sarah asked if the unidentified girl was wearing a gold ring with a blue stone. The policeman went into the morgue and returned to confirm that, yes, the girl was wearing such a ring. After the morgue had been cleared of the other dead students, the Scheuers were allowed in to identify Sandy.

Jeff Millers mother, Elaine, heard about the shootings on the radio as she drove home from work in Long Island. She decided then and there to make Jeff come home because it just wasnt safe in Kent. At home, she called Jeffs off-campus apartment. Although by this time in late afternoon, the phone system was severely overloaded, Elaines call somehow got through on the first try. The phone rang and rang and rang. Finally someone picked up. Elaine asked to speak with Jeff. The voice on the other end asked Who is this? When Elaine, annoyed by the question, replied, Its his mother, the boy replied bluntly, Hes dead. Elaine began to shriek. Her husband-to-be, who had followed her home, found her in a heap at the end of her bed, still holding the phone and screaming incoherently. Later that night, Jeffs father and brother flew to Ohio to bring Jeffs body home. When shown his sons body in the morgue, Jeffs father initially refused to identify him. His face had been so badly damaged by the bullet wound, Bernard Miller simply couldnt recognize him. After the shock wore off, he realized that, indeed, this was his son. Later, this event would be twisted by those who wanted to paint the student victims as worthless agitators deserving of their fate. Did you hear, the rumor mill asked, that Millers own father couldnt recognize him because he was so dirty? Back in New York, the funeral director advised Jeffs mother not to view his body because of the extensive damage. Still in shock, Elaine accepted that advice and regretted it for the rest of her life. Months later, the high school that Jeff attended (and where his mother and would-have-been stepfather worked) held a memorial service for him. A boyhood friend told the crowd: Like many of us, (Jeff) left for college confused, seeking answers and trying to legitimize his own existence. Now his search has ended. A National Guardsmans bullet has brought him the final reality. Dust to dust another statistic why should the world notice? He finished his eulogy with a poignant question: Jeff, friend, you as much as anybody typified the fact that we all march to the beat of a different drummer. Why didnt you tell me it was going to be a procession?

For several hours after the shootings, reports indicated that a William Schneider was among those killed. Back at Bill Schroeders apartment, his roommates waited for Bill to return. When the 5:00 curfew came and went without Bill appearing, his roommates got that sick feeling that William Schneider was really William Schroeder. Around 5:15, one of Bills friends got through to the apartment and he told Bills roommates that he had seen Bill after he was shot, but that he was just wounded. Bills roommate, Lou Cusella, then called the hospital to ask if William Schneider had been positively identified. The hospital said he hadnt. The hospital urged Cusella to call State Senator Robert Stockdale, a professor at Kent State, who had been given the job of notifying the victims families. Stockdale asked Cusella if he would be willing to go to the morgue to try to identify his friend. Cusella agreed, reluctantly, and soon thereafter, a sheriffs department car arrived to transport Cusella to the morgue. There, after being frisked, Lou was taken to a viewing room. Behind a pane of glass, Cusella saw Bills profile. Oh god, its him, Cusella told the officials. Later, Cusella called Stockdale to ask how Bills family had taken the news. Not too well, Stockdale told him. In fact, Stockdale had never called the Schroeders or the Scheuers, the Krauses or Millers. Instead, Bill Schroeders mother, in Lorain, had heard the reports of a William Schneider dead. Her repeated calls to his apartment never got through. Then, at 4:00, someone from the Cleveland Plain Dealer called to ask if the family had a picture of Bill the newspaper could use. When Florence Schroeder asked why, the reporter quickly apologized, saying he must have called the wrong house, and hung up. When Lou Schroeder got home, his wife persuaded him to go talk to a neighbor, a Lorain policeman. The policeman assured the Schroeders that, if Bill had been killed, they would have heard by now. But, at 6 PM, the Plain Dealer reporter called again. This time, he said he had reliable information that William Knox Schroeder had been killed at Kent State. Minutes later, a Lorain police dispatcher called the Schroeders and gave them a number to call. The number turned out to be Robinson Memorial Hospital where they were put in touch with a hospital administrator who asked if Senator Stockdale had called them. When Florence said no, the administrator told her that Bill had expired. Florence Schroeder collapsed.

Allison Krauses uncle lived in Cleveland. In the early afternoon of May 4, he heard a report that there had been trouble at Kent and that his niece had been killed. He called his brother, Arthur, and relayed what he was hearing on local radio. Arthur immediately called his wife to get Allisons phone number. Not wanting to alarm his wife until he could find out more, Arthur mentioned nothing of what his brother had told him. Meanwhile, Allisons little sister, Laurie, was on her way home when a neighbor told her that KDKA, a local Pittsburgh radio station, was trying to get in touch with her family. When Doris, Laurie and Allisons mother, called home a bit later, Laurie passed along the message. Doris called KDKA and a reporter there told her that Allison had been shot. Doris began frantically trying to get through to the hospital, with no luck. Eventually, someone suggested using a police band radio and they were finally able to get the emergency call through. Doris asked if there was an Allison Krause at the hospital and was switched to the hospital administrator. She asked her question again and received a chillingly blunt reply, Yes, she was DOA. (DOA=dead on arrival) Even that turned out to be disputed as Allisons boyfriend, Barry, who rode with her to the hospital, swore she was alive when they arrived. The Krauses left for Ravenna in the early evening. At the hospital, reporters crowded around Arthur Krause seeking a statement. In his grief, Krause told the reporters: All I know is that my daughter is dead! Im not on anybodys side. We were so glad we had two daughters so they could stay out of Vietnam. Now shes dead. What a waste. What a terrible waste. He hesitated and then went on: Id like to know who the boys were who shot my daughter. Id like to meet them. Theyre young, immature guys who joined the National Guard to stay out of Vietnam. Theyve got a miserable job to do. The Krauses stayed at the hospital until an ambulance came to take their daughters body to a funeral home. The next day, an emotional Arthur would again speak to the media and his powerful words would be broadcast on all the national news networks: She resented being called a bum because she disagreed with someone elses opinion. She felt that our crossing into Cambodia was wrong. Is this dissent a crime? Is this a reason for killing her? Have we come to such a state in this country that a young girl has to be shot because she disagrees deeply with the actions of her government? (emphasis added)

The state of Ohio did extensive autopsies on all the students killed that day and, even though it went against the tenets of his Jewish faith, Arthur Krause decided to have another autopsy done once Allisons body was returned to Pittsburgh because, even then, he didnt trust any official report. After the second autopsy had been completed, her devoted family laid Allison to rest in a small Jewish cemetery in Pittsburgh. A few weeks later, they got a check from Kent State University for $514. It was a refund for Allisons spring tuition.

Before the end of June, Arthur Krause had filed a wrongful death suit against Ohio officials, including Governor Rhodes and National Guard Generals Del Corso and Canterbury. When his lawyer asked Krause how much he wanted to sue for, Krause responded $1. For him, the lawsuit had nothing to do with money and everything to do with holding people accountable. Informed that federal courts required a certain dollar threshold before they would entertain the suit, Krause thought for a bit and then announced he would sue for $6 million. Asked later how he arrived at that figure, he said it represented $1 for every Jew killed in the Holocaust. (Three of the four students killed Scheuer, Krause and Miller were, by chance, Jewish.) By mid-September, the parents of Jeff Miller and Sandy Scheuer had also filed suit.

Meanwhile, all across the country, college students tried to understand what had happened. Their gut instincts, combined with what many had seen happen on their own campuses, convinced them that the students had been innocent and that the Guard had overreacted. The shock of the killings, however, were heightened for many when they called home that afternoon. Scared and upset, they heard their own parents denounce the students and proclaim that they should have shot them all or they must have done something to deserve what they got. This widespread attitude that blamed the victims for their fate only served to pull the generations further apart. A fog of grief and outrage descended. One report described how, in the weeks after the killings, the citizens of Kent would greet each other by flashing four fingers, signifying, We got four. Bill Gordon, author of Four Dead in Ohio: Was There a Conspiracy at Kent State would call the Kent State shootings the most popular murders ever committed in the United States.

Students, reacting to what they believed was murder, took to the streets to demand answers and to remember their fallen comrades. Memorial vigils occurred that night all across the country. Over the next few days, however, many campuses moved from quiet candlelight vigils to more direct action. A nationwide student strike was called and, by the end of the week, some 800 campuses had been shut down, affecting nearly four million college students. It was the largest such event in American history. Many students went home but others, fearing parents who supported the actions of the National Guard, wandered from friend to friend, searching for some place to hang out until their campus reopened. That first weekend, hundreds of thousands of students found that place in Washington, DC, where people from all over the country gathered to protest the killings and demand accountability.

The DC protesters that weekend included Jeff Millers older brother, Russ, who left for DC shortly after his brothers funeral in New Yorks historic Riverside Church. Thousands of young people gathered outside, waving banners with peace doves and blown up photos of Jeff lying dead on the pavement. One placard declared WE THE PEOPLE MOURN OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. When police arrived with barricades, the wary youth stood back and then, respectfully, they helped the police set up a barrier to provide space for the hearse carrying Jeffs body. Inside the glorious old church, the large crowd heard a series of distinguished speakers remember the 20-year-old none of them had known. NY Senator Charles Goodell told the crowd, We pledge to do what we can to make this a meaningful death. Dr. Benjamin Spock, the outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam, also spoke: Young peopleare willing to look at the terrible injustices that exist in the United States. They have the courage to act out their idealism. They put the rest of us to shame. To me, the most impressive thing of all this is that they cannot be intimidated. The more efforts there are at oppression, the more it opens young peoples eyes. (Jeffs) death and the death of the other three at Kent State may be a blessing. This may do more to end the war in Vietnam than all the rest of us have been able to do in five years. Rabbi Julius Goldberg noted that Jeff had been killed by a fusillade of bullets labeled fear, panic, mistrust, war to end wars. He admonished the crowd to listen to Jeffs brothers and sisters. We must give peace a chance. Finally, when the service ended, six pallbearers carried Jeffs simple hardwood coffin down to the street where the young, mostly long-haired mourners filled the street for a block in either direction. When they saw the coffin, the kids became silent and raised their hands in the peace sign. Later, Elaine Miller Holstein would say that she had no real understanding of how the memorial service came to be. She didnt know who had arranged for the service to be held in Riverside Church. She had no knowledge of how so many VIPs came to speak at the funeral. She just remembered the kids outside. She knew that they were really the ones who had come to remember Jeff as a person, rather than as a symbol.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Richard Nixon heard the news on May 4 and issued a statement supposedly expressed regret but really just blamed the kids for their own deaths: 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 nations campuses, administrators, faculty and students alike to stand firmly for the right which exists in this country of peaceful dissent and just as strongly against the resort to violence as a means of such expression.

On Friday, May 8, Nixon held a press conference where, as expected, most of the questions revolved around the shootings. As he spoke to the press, students had begun gathering in D.C. for the massive weekend protest. When asked what he thought the students were trying to say with their protest, Nixon replied: They are trying to say that they want peace. They are trying to say that they want to stop the killing. They are trying to say that they want to end the draft. They are trying to say that we ought to get out of Vietnam. I agree with everything that they are trying to accomplish. He added, I think I understand what they want. I would hope they would understand somewhat what I want. When asked if he felt the country was heading into a period of revolution and repression, he pointed to the pending demonstrations as evidence disputing this claim. Briefly, this country is not headed for revolution. The very fact that we do have the safety valves of the right to dissent, the very fact that the President of the United States asked the District Commissioners to waive their rule for 30 days' notice for a demonstration, and also asked that that demonstration occur not just around the Washington Monument but on the Ellipse where I could hear it--and you can hear it pretty well from there, I can assure you--that fact is an indication that when you have that kind of safety valve you are not going to have revolution which comes from repression. In fact, by this point, buses had been brought in to surround the White House and, according to Alexander Haig, troops had been stationed in the basement in case students decided to attack.

Following the press conference, Nixon went back to his quarters where, apparently, he began drinking heavily. Unable to sleep, he began working the phones. As Army troops moved into position to protect government buildings from the demonstrators, Nixon made 47 phone calls in four hours, including eight to Henry Kissinger, seven to Bob Haldeman, and at least one each to Norman Vincent Peale and Billy Graham. While we still dont know everyone he called, we do know that one of the calls went to DeWitt Wallace, founder and publisher of Readers Digest which had a well-deserved reputation of printing books and articles that portrayed an America that was kindly, religious, self-sufficient, neighborly, and staunchly anticommunist. A few days later, Wallace would commission James Michener to write Kent State: What Happened and Why, a massive work designed to prove that what happened at Kent State was a tragedy in which no one was to blame. Micheners high profile and solid reputation, combined with the marketing power of Readers Digest, gave the book wide circulation. For years, publishers approached about doing another book on the shootings would decline, pointing to Micheners work as definitive. Unfortunately, however, like most of Micheners works, he sprinkled fiction in with his facts. The result could more honestly be called a nonfiction novel. But Nixon got what he wanted and DeWitt Wallace was rewarded in 1972 when Nixon conferred on him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

To his dismay, Nixon discovered that even this mad round robin of phone calls couldnt calm his brain. After finally giving up on phone calls, Nixon listened to Rachmaninoffs First Piano Concerto. When that, too, failed to bring peace, Nixon summoned his personal valet, Manolo Sanchez, and asked if he had ever visited the Lincoln Memorial at night. When Sanchez replied that he had not, Nixon decided to go sight-seeing despite the fact that it was now 5 AM. Without alerting his Secret Service detail, Nixon summoned a limousine and took off with Sanchez for the Lincoln Memorial. There, they found thousands of students hanging out on the steps, waiting for the next days protests. The students, of course, were stunned to see Nixon approaching. They stood by respectfully while the President clumsily attempted to engage them in conversation. Nixon talked about surfing and football and how travel would broaden their understanding of the world. Mostly, the students maintained a stunned silence. Finally, Nixon told the protestors to enjoy their time in D.C. but admonished them to keep things peaceful. He then left, with Sanchez still in tow, and went over to the Capitol. In the chamber of the House of Representatives, Nixon encouraged Sanchez to give a speech to the empty chamber while Nixon sat and listened. One can only imagine the thoughts running through Nixons head as he remembered his days in the House and the Senate. By then, however, the Secret Service had realized their most important person had gone missing. They tracked him down and brought him back to the White House where, referring to his talk with the students at the Lincoln Memorial, he said simply, I doubt if that got over.

A few days later, after seeing pictures of the students shot down at Jackson State, Nixon would say, What are we going to do to get more respect for the police from our young people? Later, Henry Kissinger would confide his belief that, that May, Nixon was on the verge of a mental breakdown. H.R. Bob Haldeman would suggest in his Watergate memoir, The Ends of Power that the shootings deepened the White House paranoia, thereby adding to the conspiratorial thinking that ultimately forced Nixon from office. For those of us who believe that the Nixon administration was not necessarily caught off guard by the shootings, this explanation looks like merely another attempt to blame the victims.
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Master Mahon Donating Member (621 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 05:27 PM
Response to Original message
1. Isn't Saddam on trial for this very same thing?
When my GOP antagonists talk about Saddam killing his own people,
I have to remind them of this occurance here in America. And,
these students were just demonstrating.
The only difference is that no one here had to stand trial for it and certainly no one overthrew our gov't because of it!
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 05:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. some did stand trial
Although it was very truncated and bore few results. (That will be covered in Part V of the series.) But I know how you feel. I was out of mind with anger after Tianneman Square when all these high-and-mighty American politicians were condemning the Chinese for "killing their own children." And, of course, the Kent State victims were only the most visible ones. There were something like 28 students in all killed on college campuses (or nearby) by official authorities during the 1960s and early 70s.
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Tom Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. The most famous photo is that of a young woman, screaming over the
Edited on Wed May-24-06 08:28 PM by Tom Joad
mindless death of a young student, that you see here.



When this happened to a coworker in Gaza, Tom Hurndall, and a friend Alice, i had met a month or two before this event, in the West Bank was next to the victim (he was shot by the Israeli military while assisting young children, i thought of that historical photo. The British govt. may demand compensation. The family, however, is calling for prosecution of officers who issued illegal orders to shoot anyone in the area where Tom was attempting to safeguard children. History repeats itself.
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 07:55 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. can't help myself
Whenever someone posts that picture of Jeff, I have to counter it with this one, taken on the Saturday before he was killed:



Your parallel photo is very chilling. Thanks, Tom Joad. (And what an honor to have "Tom Joad" contributing to this thread -- my favorite novel, as my kitten, Calliope Joad, would tell you if she could just talk. :-))
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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
3. kainah,
I really appreciate your series, I had missed it before because my job precludes me from reading DU very much these days.

I know Joseph Lewis personally. We played basketball together. He never spoke of this, I only found out later that he was one of the wounded that day. In fact, I knew him for years and he never mentioned it to me.

Good work. Younger Americans need to know how their government tried to kill dissenters only a generation ago.
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 06:38 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. glad you caught it this time, Steve
I've met Joe on several occasions, both at Kent for memorials and at a couple of the legal proceedings. I haven't been to Kent for many, many years, so I don't think I've seen him since the civil settlement in 1979. I doubt he'd remember me. He's a very good guy and I admire how he's handled this. I'm not that surprised he didn't mention it even though he's been open about his role that day and has spoken about it for books, documentaries, presentations, etc. It's always so nice to see him looking strong and healthy because he was very badly wounded that day.

You could tell him Lesley (friend of Peter Davies & Elaine Holstein) says hi but, as I say, I wouldn't expect him to remember me after all these years.
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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 06:24 PM
Response to Original message
4. And don't forget
A few days later, more student demonstrators were massacred at Jackson State.
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Jackson State
there is mention of Nixon's reaction to Jackson State at the end of the entry. Definitely don't forget the Jackson State victims (Philip Gibbs and James Green). There are also some twenty-plus other students who were killed on or near campuses by officials during the 1960s and early 70s. Wish I had a complete list but, alas, I don't.
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femrap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 07:35 PM
Response to Original message
7. Thank you....I was a junior in high school in Ohio at this time.
All state schools closed except Miami, I think. So sad....

I hate to think what they're going to do this time. Funny, but students today don't seem too concerned about ideals as we did back in the '60's and '70's. Or am I wrong?

Of course there's no draft now either....so it doesn't affect them as much. They seem much more concerned with getting good paying jobs than with the state of our Democracy and Constitution...please correct me if I am wrong.
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 07:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Miami closed
I was a freshman at Western College for Women, also in Oxford, and Miami did close. We voted to keep Western open because we felt safe there and we had lots of friends with nowhere to go so many of them came to stay at our campus where we held various seminars and teach-ins all week.

But Miami definitely closed because, later that week, I almost got arrested for walking through their campus. A friend and I had gone uptown to get something and, as had always been recommended to us, we cut through Miami's campus because it was the shortest and safest route to town. When we were coming back and on the edge (closest to town) of Miami's campus, we were stopped by the cops who asked what we were doing on the closed campus. We explained and, after hassling us quite a bit with some menacing comments thrown in, they let us go. But, they told us, "get your asses off this campus and back on your own." Then, just before we reached the other edge of campus (closest to our own), they'd pulled up again and said they were going to arrest us because we'd been warned. They knew we couldn't have gotten off campus any faster but they wanted to hassle and scare us. They detained us for about 10 minutes before finally letting us go. And then, they drove by us one last time as we crossed the street (off Miami's campus) and walked back onto ours. We stayed on our campus the rest of the week until the Miami students returned the next Monday, I think. And later that week, (my timing might be wrong but I think that's right), the Natl Guard was called into Miami and I remember vividly sitting on the edge of our campus watching 4 busloads of guardsmen in full riot gear come into town with rifles and snarling dogs visible in the back window.
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femrap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 11:57 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Wow....thanks for the story.
OK...Miami reopened then, right? Maybe the other state schools didn't? Maybe that's where this memory is coming from?

I spent some time at Miami in the years following....a bunch of my friends attended Miami....I went to the party school...OU. Saw the band, Yes, at Miami....I think it was 1973. Great concert. Oxford and Athens are very nice towns, don't you think?
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 12:26 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. I think so
Yeah, I can't always fit all these pieces together to make a coherent whole -- too many demonstrations & too many drugs??? -- but I think Miami closed that Monday (of the shootings) and then reopened the next week. And that week, things got tense there again, the Guard was called in and they tear gassed a kid until he fell out of a tree. But my memory is that it stayed open then through the semester. I know Kent closed for the rest of the semester and I thought Ohio State might have, too. But I always thought the other schools re-opened but I may be wrong about that.

I used to hitchhike to Athens to party with friends. Maybe we were at some of the same parties. :-) But, yes, I enjoyed both of those towns.

BTW, Dean Kahler, who was paralyzed from the waist down by the National Guard bought a farm with his settlement money just outside of Athens and, for a number of years, he served a county commissioner down there.
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femrap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-26-06 11:55 PM
Response to Reply #12
21. Remember hitchhiking?
Those were the days....

I bet we were at some of the same parties!
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tomreedtoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 03:43 AM
Response to Original message
13. "They'll learn nothing" - but they did.
My own recollection was from an editorial in "Analog," the science fiction magazine, where the crotchety and Libertarian editor John Campbell wrote an editorial about the Kent State shootings. I didn't fully agree with it, but he raised some points to ponder.

His main point was that the clash was between two different editions of the same generation. The Kent State protestors were fairly wealthy kids who got to go to college. The National Guardsmen were of the same age, but were rural kids who never had the chance for education beyond high school and were basically working stiffs. The Guardsmen didn't see any point to the philosophical argument against the war. The protesters, to their viewpoint, were rioters plain and simple, and they were definitely not hard-working people like them.

Campbell's secondary point was that neither the protestors nor the Guardsmen had the worldly experience to handle what was happening; the Guardsmen fired out of panic, and the protestors didn't think the Guardsmen would fire. This was Campbell's most troubling point to me, but I had to concede he was right. No one had been seriously hurt in campus protests up to then; there was no expectation that deadly force would be used.

Campbell concluded by saying that no one - not the Guardsmen, not the protestors - would learn anything from the tragic confrontation. Here, he was wrong. Student marches and confrontations against the war had largely been a game for the students. They hadn't truly suffered, aside from tear gas or clubbing. When students saw they could be killed, it killed the student demonstrations quickly.

Which was a good thing, since the antiwar movement had spread beyond the college campuses; a wide variety of Americans were sick of the war by then, even if they didn't march. What Kent State did was say to the students, "Staging protests in the face of police lines can be fatal. Maybe there are more effective and less deadly ways for you to get your point across."

It's tragic that four lives had to be lost to learn that lesson, and that National Guardsmen had to bear the onus of those deaths on their consciences, but we were all stupid in the 60's and 70's, and we had to learn our lessons hard.
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 04:11 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. disagree totally
I disagree totally with almost every point you ... or this Campbell ... is making. I could waste an hour or so picking it all apart but I suspect that would be pointless since I've already done that in the four threads of this journal series.

I'm hoping you came into this because you wanted to learn something about Kent State. If you did, then I'd politely suggest you take the time to read what I've written. If you agree with Campbell at the end of all that, I will defend your right to say it but I will continue to vehemently disagree.
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tomreedtoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 04:45 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Ahem...okay, let's put it this way.
I posted the Campbell stuff - which I said I did not entirely agree with - to frame the argument in a different way.

Undoubtedly, you saw this as a political problem. A big fascist government shooting down peace-loving protestors. Well, that might be true, or it might not. Politically, I was against the war, but I thought that the campus protests were wrong - just so you understand where I was on the political spectrum.

I saw Kent State as a human tragedy. Two groups of people with fundamental sociological differences facing each other, not understanding each other, and turning violent. Politics was only incidental to the confrontation.

And if you don't think that sociology matters - consider that most of the people fighting in Bush's war are not college student draftees, but poor rural or Rust Belt American kids not too dissimilar to the Kent State National Guardsmen. I see another Kent State in the future, and it might be as close as the next Presidential elections. And once again, nobody will understand why it happened.


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RedEarth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 08:26 AM
Response to Original message
16. Outstanding.... I have vivid memories of the terrifying day
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RhodaGrits Donating Member (688 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 09:05 AM
Response to Original message
17. "should have killed them all"
I can still remember the chilling argument I had with my father when I realized that 1) it could have been me demonstrating there that day and 2) he thought they (insert "I") deserved to die. I never saw him in the same light again. I think that scene was repeated in many households nationwide in the aftermath.
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RoseMead Donating Member (953 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
18. Thank you for this series
I was 2 years old when these events occurred, but I have always been interested in Kent State. I had read about the shootings, and I basically had accepted the Guard-panicked-terrible-tragedy version of events. Reading your articles,I was shocked to find out how little I really knew about the events leading up to the attack, or the actions that took place on that day in May 1970.

After reading your earlier posts and other accounts such as "MISSION BETRAYED: Richard Nixon and the Scranton Commission Inquiry into Kent State" by Charles Thomas, http://speccoll.library.kent.edu/4May70/MissionBetrayed... I have to wonder why so many people who were adults at the time apparently still cannot see the resemblance between the Nixon administration and the current administration.

Thank you again for the invaluable history lesson.
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YOY Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 01:31 PM
Response to Original message
19. As a Kent State gradutate (my undergrad years)
I really wish there was some other thing that connected the school with out history.

Then again when I left the school was going to the dogs. Subsequent visits have proved it.
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-25-06 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I sympathize
I have several family members who are KSU grads and I know how hard it is to have this be the first thing that people always associate with your alma mater.
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