Forty-three years ago John Filo snapped an iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a fourteen-year-old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller after he was shot dead by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.
I was 17.
Richard Nixon had been elected President in 1968, promising to end the Vietnam War.
“The war showed no signs of going away as the Pentagon instituted a draft lottery and American troops massacred My Lai. In Late-April of 1970 President Nixon gave to go-ahead to an invasion of Cambodia after staging a coup in that neutral country with the blessing of Henry Kissinger.
Thousands of protesters hit the streets across America and then it was hundreds of thousands.
My all-boys Catholic high school shut down, so that its students could demonstrate in Boston Commons.
Washington was under siege.
College campuses across the nation were closed by the protests.
At Kent State hundreds of students gathered to witness one student burn his draft card.
That evening after the closing of a bar bikers, students, and transient people broke the glass windows of a bank. Police confronted the mob and the town mayor ordered the closure of all the bars leading to an escalation of violence, but tear gas persuaded the mob to retreat into the campus.
The next day Governor Jim Rhodes ordered in the National Guard after hearing of threats to destroy the college and town. The protesters responded to the escalation by burning down the ROTC office and preventing firemen from saving the building.
Governor Rhodes was furious.
“”We’ve seen here at the city of Kent especially, probably the most vicious form of campus oriented violence yet perpetrated by dissident groups. They make definite plans of burning, destroying, and throwing rocks at police, and at the National Guard and the Highway Patrol. This is when we’re going to use every part of the law enforcement agency of Ohio to drive them out of Kent. We are going to eradicate the problem. We’re not going to treat the symptoms. And these people just move from one campus to the other and terrorize the community. They’re worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes. They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America. Now I want to say this. They are not going to take over the campus. I think that we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.”
On May 4 the bloodshed of Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos came home to America.
Companies A and C, 1/145th Infantry and Troop G of the 2/107th Armored Cavalry, Ohio National Guard lowered their M-1 rifles and shot into the rock-throwing crowd. Only 29 of the 79 discharged their weapons, but four students lay dead and nine were wounded.
The war continued another five years.
Even with four dead in Ohio.
Fuck Henry Kissinger.
Bring the war criminal to justice.
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