Remembering a Tragedy at Kent State University

Remembering a Tragedy at Kent State University

Sugar Helena Constant, Staff Writer

50 years ago on May 4th, four students of Kent State University were killed by the Ohio National Guard. This happened during a mass protest against the bombing in Cambodia by the United States military forces. 

On May 1, 1970 at Kent State University, a demonstration of 500 students was held as a protest against the bombing of neutral Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The students dispersed at 1 pm to go to class, and another rally was planned for May 4th. There was already widespread anger toward the Vietnam War by young people across the nation. University officials at Kent State handed out leaflets saying the event was cancelled, but despite this, 2,000 students had gathered on the university’s Commons. 

The Ohio National Guard attempted to disperse the crowd, but they did not. The protesters threw rocks as a response, forcing them to retreat. The National Guard returned again just before noon and ordered the crowd to disperse. Most of the protesters stayed, and as a result, the Guard used tear gas. 

When they realized that the protesters were not going to disperse, a group of 77 National Guard troops advanced upon the crowd. The protesters then started to retreat out of the Commons area. At one point, some of the Guards turned and fired into a crowd of students for around 13 seconds. 

Some witnesses recall thinking that “They were not going to shoot… It’s going to be a blank.” When people were hit, the stunned students suddenly realized that they weren’t blanks. Of the thirteen students hit, four were killed  including Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder. Two of the four students killed, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder, were just walking to class. Nine students were injured beyond repair. The shots fired were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable. 

The Kent State Massacre shocked the entire nation and led to more protests on college campuses throughout the United States. Some schools were forced to close as a result. Just five days after the shootings, an anti-war protest of 100,000 people in Washington D.C. was held against the killing of unarmed student protesters. 

Photographs of the Kent State Massacre were spread around the world. One picture, of a 14- year- old girl, Mary Ann Vecchio, screaming over the body of Jeffrey Miller, who was shot in the mouth, won a Pulitzer Prize. The tragedy of the Kent State Shootings changed America and will forever be remembered. The terrible event can never be justified.