1970 Kent State Shootings are an Enduring History Lesson

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Shootings, and this article from USA Today is a good reminder of the basic details. Disinfo.com readers who remember the event are invited to post their memories in the comments section.

from Asfband at Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Asfband (CC) via Wikimedia Commons

Forty springs ago, on the day the Vietnam War came home as it never had before, Mary Ann Vecchio was there. She’s the girl in the haunting photo — crying, kneeling over the student’s body.

That was Kent State University, May 4, 1970, a few days after Richard Nixon, who’d campaigned for president on an implicit promise to end the war, widened it by invading Cambodia.

Across the nation, students protested. At Kent State, where two days earlier the ROTC building was burned down, National Guardsmen fired into a crowd and killed four unarmed students, the closest of whom was nearly a football field away.

Vecchio found Jeffrey Miller dead on the ground, a moment captured by a student photographer.

Rarely has an American home front been so traumatized — Yale historian Jay Winter calls the Kent State shootings “a wound in the nation’s history” — and for a time the school was so ashamed it shortened its name to “Kent,” changed its logo and ended its annual May 4 observances.

But things have changed in 40 years, during which the United States left Vietnam and entered Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, a campus that unwillingly became synonymous with protest is more focused on remembering opposition to that war than opposing the current ones.

Unlike Vietnam, the wars America now fights have never really come home. Students don’t worry about getting drafted. The campus anti-war group is inactive. The big cause is Haiti, the big issue the cost and availability of parking.

“There’s no strong opposition to it,” junior Kassandra Meholick says of the fighting today, “and no strong support for it.”

[Read more at USA Today]

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