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Kent State Massacre

Cover of Life Magazine May 15, 1970

On April 30th, 1970 President Richard Nixon announced the “Cambodian Campaign”, a joint American and South Vietnamese mission that would further escalate violence in Southeast Asia as well as escalate the civil war in Cambodia (Sutsakhan 94). Protests at Kent State University began the next day and would continue for the following three days until the Ohio National Guard intervened. An estimated gathering of 2,000+ students (Kent State Libraries p. 8) ignored the tear gas thrown by the National Guard and at 12:24 p.m., at least 29 of the 77 guardsmen opened fire in a spree that was said to have lasted only 13 seconds (Kifner p. 3). When the smoke cleared, four students lay dead and another nine were wounded by National Guard fire. Aside from the obvious tragedy, this event was a somewhat ironic one. A common way of avoiding combat in Vietnam for young men at the time was to join the National Guard. Joining branches such as the National Guard or the Coast Guard was a way to fulfill one’s service to the country while ideally avoiding any type of foreign deployment. The violence of the guardsmen to their own citizens sent shock waves through the nation, further strengthened the case and resolve of anti-Vietnam protesters, and remains one of the most despicable acts of army negligence America has seen.