After 42 years I thought at least a fictional treatment of the time during my last year at Kent could be put to paper or screen. I and my accomplished author wife completed Life's What Happens and the book I believe captures the time between September, 1969 and May 5th and the impact of the decisions made by many on their entire life. It is now available on Amazon. The mood in the nation and on the campuses across the U.S. triggered first Vietnam War draft laid the foundation for the unrest and events that followed. One of those was Kent State.
- Bob W., November, 2012
I wasn't there but on the Friday after the shooting, I was in a bar, Dirty Frank's, in Philadelphia, Pa with friends Jerry & Trudy. We decided to drive down to Washington then to join Saturday's protest march on Washington. We picked up two hitchhikers, one had joined the Marines rather than be drafted so he could attend the Newport jazz festival. All DC universities opened their doors during the night; we slept on the floor of American U. I don't remember much about who spoke or what was said; I just thought it important to be there. We picked up two different hitchhikers on the way home and let them off on the NJ turnpike.
- Francis B., May 5, 2010
I was a senior at Kent State...excited to graduate. That day I went to Bowman Hall to get the results of my final exam grade in American Community - a course out of the sociology dept. I got my grade and walked onto the commons. The armed militia were there along with many students. I walked up the hill and the tear gas caused me to choke. As I was trying to get a breath I heard these poping sounds and I said sarcatically to a student next to me...my God they must be shooting us. Well they were shooting at us and at that moment I ran behind Taylor Hall and the shooting stopped. It was mass panic. Student were screaming and crying and there was blood on the ground and students clutching each other...some injured. I remember that day as if it were yesterday and I cry on every anniversary of the massacre. I am no longer angry. That emotion has left but the sadness will never leave.
- Susan K., May 4, 2010
They day they shot the Kent State Four changed my life forever. It was if a line in the sand had been drawn and knew which side I was on. I ultimately decided to enroll at Kent State because I needed to do something to prevent that kind of thing from every happening again. And since that day, I have been living my life as two, as the song goes, and remembering Allison, Jeffrey, Sandy and Bill. Ironically, I finished my degree at Kent with a scholarship from Allison Kraus's parents. My heart still aches, and tears still fall on the earth that marks her grave.
- Phyllis R., May 4, 2010
This event changed the course of my life. I was 20, working in Kansas City, delivering parts in the company truck when I heard the news. I informed my coworkers -- all, even those my age, agreed that it was about time those hippees got what they deserved. I had to get out... I went back to school and became a teacher so that I might have some influence on such narrow mindedness. A few years ago my daugther and I visited the site as she was making a video for a high school class project -- a profound experience. My chest aches as I write this... now tears.
- George M. 4, 2010
My father was a professor at the time of the shootings. I was only 4, but I remember very vividly when he came home from work early on May 4. He looked awful. My mom and I asked him what was wrong. "They're killing our children," he answered. "They've shot our students." He went upstairs to be and my mom and I just stared at each other.
- Beth W., May 4, 2010
I was 10 days shy of my 13th birthday and living in a suburb of Pittsburgh. When I got home from school that day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was on the hassock in the living room and on its front page was the now inconic photo of the overwrought young girl kneeling over one of the shooting victims. Although it was in neighboring Ohio I had never heard of Kent State. The shooting had more resonance with me later in the summer when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's song "Ohio" became popular. I've written about this event in my blog at: http://www.HistoryAsYouExperiencedIt.com
- Rob W. May 4, 2010
Until I heard the news on May 4, I'd been living a pleasant interim life in Columbus, Ohio, marked by my graduation from Ohio State 5 months earlier and waiting for my boyfriend to graduate in early June. On May 3, my family called to summon us to Cleveland due to a sudden family death.
Then May 4. OGodNo. The news of the massacre, its route to me, who was with me, how I reacted -- I remember nothing. My brain made no imprint of those details OR it's not releasing them...yet.
I do, though, remember May 5. The innumerable emotions, the denial, the rational and irrational outrage were swamping me and I find myself on the phone with my mother, telling her we're unable to get to Cleveland -- that bastard Gov. Rhodes, who had ordered the National Guard to Kent, had cordoned off Columbus with its enormous, seething student population. I couldn't pull a coherent thought out of the mix while my mother, very concerned about me, very well-meaning and very naive, said perhaps she could call the governor for me and ask for a permit. I felt as if I'd stepped over the threshhold into madness.
Then my father grabbed the phone. He demanded to know what the hell was the matter with me because, from what he could pick up, I wasn't being cooperative. Shaking with emotion I said, "Daddy...," a word I'd long ago stopped using because it was too sweet for the fit between us -- "Daddy, they're KILLING us!"
As usual he had the appropriate answer ready. "And if you'd been there, YOU should have been shot, too!"
= America had become a country that ate its own young for its own purposes.=
For me, May 4 revisits the wisdom history always teaches: Question Authority.
- Laura W. May 4, 2010
I was a freshman, living in Korb Hall, on May 4, 1970. I remember standing on the practice football field on the evening of Saturday, May 2, watching the ROTC building burn down. I remember how surreal it was to hear helicopters flying overhead on Sunday night. On Monday morning I was in a 7:45a.m. math class. Suddenly we all jumped in our seats when a load of coal made a loud noise as it was dumped down the coal shute in the building behind us. Our professor commented, "I guess we are all a little tense."
At noon on May 4 I was having lunch in the cafeteria before I left for my work study job in the Department of Education. The cafeteria was empty except for another young woman whom I recognized as a member of the ROTC.
Someone came in and whispered something to her, and she suddently got up and left.
Eventually we made our way to the roof of Korb Hall, and we could see ambulances at the parking lot near the practice football field. When it was announced that the college would be closed, a friend and I hitched a ride with someone driving to Chardon, close enough to our homes in Painesville. I remember stopping in Auburn Corners and using a pay phone to call home to say, "Daddy, I'm OK. We are on our way home."
My mom and my aunt both told me, "They should have killed more people."
- B. Vargo, May 3, 2010
I was in class within ear-shot of the shootings. The entire weekend May 1 – 4 was bizarre. Roommates and neighbors from Rhodes Rd. Apts. were together Friday night for the first time & went downtown to take in the ambiance. All hell had broken out with a bonfire on Water St., mayhem in the streets, Law Enforcement Officers had tape over their names, next door neighbor arrested, etc. Working in a restaurant in Richfield Sat. & Sunday PM provided unique challenges trying to return to my domicile on Rhodes Road…. road blocks, helicopters overhead, etc. I recall Monday AM May 4th, the National Guard was in position around campus. They had been on duty escorting striking truckers and were a little tired.
I was in class – Industrial Psych - and we heard the gunfire. The Professor suggested we leave and we did.
I’ve heard the gunfire again today.
I can only cry.
I’ve not been back on campus since graduating summer 1970.
- Fred T., May 3, 2010
Hi, I'm a senior citizen in Baton Rouge, La. and I tried to call the number of NPR's Talk of the Nation, but had no luck.
I remember that infamous day very well, It was a continuation of all the violence of the 1960s and the evil, misguided foreign policy of the US Govt., in Vietnam.. Even in a democracy, when the govt. in Washington, DC feels threatened, it becomes brutal and oppressive. With Nixon as president, at that time, it came as no surprise to me and millions of others who were opposed to the Vietnam War !!
- Trudy M., May 3, 2010
I grew up in nearby Stow, Ohio and was sophomore at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green , Ohio then. My mother lived on Baird Rd. in Stow, right down the road from the KSU airport, and called mt at BG on Friday frightened of what was going on in Kent.
I was invovled in the anti-war movement to a degree at BG and had many friends at Kent-so I came home on Saturday the 2nd. I drove into Kent on Sunday and saw the half track under the archway with the soldier perched ontop with a machine gun pointed down Main Street. I drove onto teh campus and was stopped by a national Guradsman who checked my student ID and told me to get the &*() off the campus and go back to Bowling Green-which I did .
I will never forget the sight of that half track under the archway and the soldiers at all the entrance points to the campus-nor will I forget what happened there on Monday the 4th.
Those events have had a profound impact on my life and will forever. 40 years latter I feel sorrow for the victims and their families as well as those responsible for firng shots and for putting those soldiers with loaded weapons on the campus in the first place.
- Ray D. May 3, 2010
I was at Kent State's sister school, Ohio University on that horrible day. To this day, the Kent State shootings make me cry out in pain. May 4th shaped my politics for a lifetime.
Shortly after the shootings we at OU started to riot against the establishment, and like Kent, our school closed down for the summer. Then came the Neil Young song which turned into the anthem for a generation.
Power to the people. Not to the banks and corporations.
- Betty S. May 3, 2010