Monday, May 5, 2008

Four Dead In Ohio

Much to my dismay, I overlooked that yesterday was the 38th anniversary of a day of infamy for my alma mater, Kent State University. For five years, I would honor the day by joining a candlelight vigil and walking in the footsteps of the kids who got caught up—fatally—in the riptide of American history. 

It was on May 4, 1970 that national guardsmen, tired and overworked from a previous student suppression assignment, and antagonized by military and political leaders, opened fire on unarmed university students. Thirteen students were seriously wounded, four of whom died. Of those, two weren't even a part of the demonstration that the guard was brought in to disperse. One was even a ROTC member.

It's still unclear whether it was an order or a misunderstanding that set the guns firing. All we know is that at some point guardsmen who had been falling back to a position atop a small hill, turned and began firing into the crowd. 

There's plenty of blame to go around. I reserve most of mine for then-governor James Rhodes, a right wing prick of the highest order whose attitudes and animosity for the students reinforced the general public's fears, and Nixon, whose own attitudes also set the tone against anyone challenging the war and whose actions (his invasion of Cambodia) set off the angry demonstrations. These men, and others like them, created the tinderbox that made the Kent State (and Jackson State) shootings possible. 

For more of the history, go here.

Bluegal over at Crooks and Liars found this video compilation commemorating that day:

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