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Four Dead In O-Hi-O

 
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 04:58 pm
40 years ago May 4th, 4 students at Kent State University near Cleveland were shot dead by members of the Ohio National Guard. The students, in 1970, were protesting President Nixon's expansion of the war in Vietnam to Cambodia.
They had set fire to the ROTC building a night or two earlier and the Guard was called in.
I have been listening to oral histories of the now 60 year old then students and others who were there.
Any memories or thoughts from yall?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 8 • Views: 5,412 • Replies: 86

 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 05:02 pm
I recall when it happened and believing the Guard was not provoked to kill their fellow citizens this way. I believe there was malice on the part of the ones did the shooting.
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 05:06 pm
@edgarblythe,
Thanks, edgar. The reference to O-Hi-O comes from the Neil Young song about the incident. Perhaps you could post it here. I don't know how to do that.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 05:15 pm
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 05:18 pm
Ohio (Neil Young) lyrics
Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 05:24 pm
@realjohnboy,
On posting youtube videos - you go to youtube and find the video you want.
click on it, and COPY the url - starts with http:/ - at the long and narrow white window at the top of your screen.

Then go to a2k. At your post, type in [youtube]
then PASTE the url
then type [/youtube]

Click on Preview to see if it worked. It usually does...


On Kent State, it is not one of the situations where I remember exactly where I was and what was happening when I learned about it.. probably home after work watching tv. But I remember being shocked.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  2  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 06:15 pm
I remember where I was: at Wayne State University in Detroit, taking a class that I needed for teacher certification. The professor was a horrid man: bragged about being 35 and having had 7 broken engagements. As the man I was seeing at the time said, "One broken engagement is part of growing up. Seven means you never will grow up."

The class was interrupted by a member who was not in class that day because she encountered the demonstration as she walked across campus. I do not remember her name but I remember what she looked like, 5' 10" tall and with vivid coloring; brown black hair, snow white skin and fuschia colored cheeks that were naturally pink/ She had a cat named Jennifer Juniper after the Donovan song.

She came in and announced that news at Kent state and everyone got up to go/ The idiot prof was screaming to stay in class but was ignored. I suspect most students went home. I stayed on campus and joined the legal committee of the students that occupied the Administration. The girl who made the announcement was on the medical committee.

Nothing happened. Most students and all faculty stayed away for three days. The two committees, medical and legal, talked politics and theory.

Everyone on the legal committee ran for precinct delegate during the next election cycle and was elected.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  3  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 07:13 pm
I came home from VN about a month later. I can't remember the date but I know that I was there for 15 months, 9 days and 6 hours. That is forever etched in my memory.
We landed in Ft Lewis, WA. I think that was the name of the place. Processed out of the Army for a few days and took a commercial flight to D.C.
I was struck by how invisible I was in my Army uniform with the patch of the 101st Airborne on my shoulder. No one said "Welcome back, soldier." But no one accused me of being a baby killer, either.
There was a story going round amongst soldiers, probably an urban myth, about a combat vet who was shot and killed as he got off a plane in his home town.
I got to D.C. and made my way to the Marriott across the river in Alexandria. I slept in a real bed for the 1st time in about 18 months. The staff there was very kind and, when I checked out, I was told that my bill had been taken care of.
I didn't really know anything about Kent State until I had been back awhile. By then I had put VN in a box and had put it up on a high shelf in a closet. I have only dared open it a couple or three times in 40 years.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 07:23 pm
I missed being over there, via offshore support, by perhaps four or five months. I know my ship went as early as '65, the year I went home. Even though I became a war protester after that, I never blamed the troops for doing what they perceived as their duty. I turned my anger on such as LBJ, Nixon, Kissinger, McNamara, etc.
realjohnboy
 
  3  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 08:53 pm
@edgarblythe,
One of the more compelling voices in talking about the events of May 4th, 1970, is that of Jerry Lewis. He was then a 33 year old assistant professor of, I believe, sociology. Now he is a retired 73 year old.
He was a "faculty marshal" on that weekend at Kent State. He had a blue ribbon tied around his upper arm indicating his role. He tried to keep things calm. But he failed.
He kept a meticulous journal of the events as he saw them play out.
His belief now is that no orders were given to the Guardsman to shoot. But he claims to have seen a group of about 12 of them turn, almost in unison, and begin firing. What triggered that? I don't know and neither does Lewis.
Some 60 shots were fired, many into the ground or into the air. But 4 students were dead and a score were wounded. A bullet from an M-1 rifle pierced a metal sculpture on the Commons and has never been repaired.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 09:58 pm
Miss Olga had a thread on "politicization," and i posted this in that thread:

By the spring of 1970, i was in the United States Army. In May, returning from the Vietnam training grounds at Fort Knox, i was passing over the "moonscape" of a tank maintenance depot which was being built there, on the way to the cook school mess hall (the food was indifferent, but you could get all you could eat). I heard someone groaning in some bushes at the side of the path and started in that direction when i was stopped by another GI who told me to leave him alone, he was a Guardsman. I didn't understand, but then i was informed about the Kent State shootings while i was in the chow line. The National Guard had fired on students (many not even protesters, but just students on their way across campus to class), wounding nine and killing four. The "politicization" which i had undergone while at university was revealed for the shallow pretense it had been--this was real life, and the consequences of reality made manifest. The company was paraded at about sundown, and all of the Guardsmen were ordered to step forward. They were then sent into the barracks to collect their effects, after which they were all marched off to an unused barracks, where they were segregated, for their own protection.
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 04:34 pm
@Setanta,
I guess I am missing something here. The NG members were segregated because there waqs a perceived threat from the RA guys
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 04:58 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
I heard someone groaning in some bushes at the side of the path and started in that direction when i was stopped by another GI who told me to leave him alone, he was a Guardsman. I didn't understand, but then i was informed about the Kent State shootings while i was in the chow line. The National Guard had fired on students (many not even protesters, but just students on their way across campus to class), wounding nine and killing four.


Dollars to donuts, and knowing military "mentality" as I do, I'd have to say that that guy had shot all four of those damn hippie students himself.

Did you go back and kick him a few times yourself, Set? That'd be justice now wouldn't it?

Did you and your compatriots single out the murderers/baby killers/rapists, you know the Calleys, the Doyles, the Ybbaras for equal treatment?

Let me be the first to commend you on your eminent sense of justice.

0 Replies
 
Joeblow
 
  2  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 06:01 pm
@realjohnboy,
It seems that Kent State has always been part of my consciousness, though I was still just ten years old on that date. I listened to Ohio, released a month after the shootings (as I know now by looking it up), by virtue of an older brother, seven years my senior. Thinking about it, I guess this is my first conscious memory of war protest. By my mid-teens, I purchased my own CSNY records, and I reckon I must have heard Stephen Still’s Find the Cost of Freedom, at least a thousand times since then.

Quote:
Young wrote the lyrics to "Ohio" after seeing the photos of the incident in Life Magazine. [1] On the evening that CSN&Y entered Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles, the song had already been rehearsed, and the quartet with their regular rhythm section recorded it live in just a few takes. During the same session in they recorded the single's equally direct b-side, Stephen Stills's ode to the war's dead, "Find the Cost of Freedom."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_(Crosby,_Stills,_Nash_&_Young_song)



realjohnboy
 
  3  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 06:59 pm
@Joeblow,
Thanks, Jowblow, for your contribution. In 1960, when you were born, I was 14.
I am from Virginia. There was another battle going on then: the racial integration of the public schools. My town, the liberal city of Charlottesville, said "Fine. Let's do it."
The Governor ordered schools in Cville to close and they were closed for a year. Parents, white and black, chipped in money, hired the laid off teachers and held classes in churches and even private homes.
My mother, a quiet lady, stunned me by becoming one of the more vocal proponents of racial integration. I was impressed.
The schools reopened the next year and I graduated from high school in 1964 and went to William and Mary through 1968.
Perhaps there was a certain battle fatigue from the civil rights issue, but I paid no attention to the looming Vietnam thing. W&M was virtually all white with students who were middle to upper class.
I am a bit ashamed that I, and we there, were not more involved.
I am not talking about storming ROTC buildings or burning effigies of President Nixon. I am thinking more about the complete absence of any discussion on campus about VN.
As it turned out, the Army got me and decided that, since I was an accounting major, it was perfectly logical to send me to VN as a combat engineer to blow stuff up.
I must admit that-in the grand scheme of life-it was perversely fun.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 07:16 pm
@realjohnboy,
Many Guardsmen had already made themselves obnoxious to both the RAs and the USs (for those who don't speak the language RJB and i are using, RA means Regular Army and refers to those who enlisted, while US refers to the United States Army, and means those who were drafted). For example, a trainee platoon leader in my basic training company had, several months earlier, said that if he, a Guardsman from Cleveland, saw any of "you hippies" on the street, he'd shoot us. There was by then already a good deal of animosity between the ANG and the RA and US soldiers.

I don't know, of course, what had happened to that guy in the tank motor pool, but i suspect he had said the wrong thing to the wrong person or persons, and got his ass whipped. We (not i or my friends, at least) didn't hunt up Guardsmen to pick fights with them, but we were long past the point at which we would take any **** from them. The ones who were marched off to a separate barracks had already been sobered by the experience of just a part of a day, and we did not hear a peep out of any of them for the rest of the training cycle. A few months after that, some idiot Guardsman at Fort Sam was crowing to me about how we'd be going to Nam, and he'd be home in a couple of months. I pointed out that he'd be kissing officer and NCO ass for at least the next six years, and he took a swing at me. I ended up preventing the other guys in the barracks from beating the **** out of him then.

There was already an "us and them" attitude between the Guard and the RA before the shootings, which just worsened the circumstances. It's the kind of subtle situation that you don't expect fire-eating bullshit artists to understand, especially those who were not there.

None of this probably existed when you were in the army--i suspect it was a product of the student demonstrations and street riots which grew out of the anti-war movement. It was already well known then that guys didn't get into the Guard (who were never going to Vietnam--although some few, very few, did, the general perception among draft age guys was the Guard was a "safe haven) unless their daddies had some pull. To further put it into context, in November, 1969, Nixon announced the lottery, and the end of almost all deferments, other than skilled work in the defense industry. That first lottery swept up a lot of people who had already married, gotten a good job, completed their university education, or otherwise made their start in life. The training units i was in were often full of guys in their mid- or even late 20s. One guy in my basic training unit was already, at 25, a professor of chemistry--he was a positive threat to us all. I was spotting for him at the rifle range one day, and explained to him that he had to jack the slide to chamber a round. The weapon jammed, and i could see the end of his cleaning rod in the barrel just in front of the chamber. I never did the low crawl so fast or so perfectly in my life. They were obviously not very happy about the situation, and the increasingly hostile and mouthy Guardsmen didn't help. After Kent State, most (but not all) Guardsmen learned to keep their mouths shut, to keep their heads down, and to do their time and get out.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 07:28 pm
In 1967, I was 25, just to situate us re age.
I was anti vietnam war early, say '62, my reasons now unclear. Not that they were wrong, but that I've had complicated discussions with myself for approaching 50 years and don't remember all of them. Probably since my father was, and he made sense. He, who took me to meet Kennedy at LAX when he was starting his campaign for the presidency, all for him, and then paled on that.
I only got more so, on antagonism re the war, but not from my father, as he died in '68.

I have my own problem re rebellions at universities. I had a problem with the stuff at UCLA when I worked there, almost as much as I had with Reagan, but not quite. Universities matter and I am no fan of shutting them down in protest.

But the scenario at Kent State was a bizarre misuse of power.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 07:28 pm
I tend to be awfully prolix. The point i am making is that the hostility between the Guard on the one hand, and the RA and US soldiers on the other, was already there and at a high pitch before Kent State. That situation probably did not exist when you were in the army.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 07:33 pm
@Setanta,
"Search and Avoid"--sound familiar?
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 07:37 pm
@realjohnboy,
Thank you for the story of Charlottesville. I had no idea that integration went that way in your city.
0 Replies
 
 

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