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Essay/Term paper: Kent state univ

Essay, term paper, research paper:  College Papers

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After a long period of fighting a defensive war in Vietnam, on April
29, 1970, President Richard Nixon launched a full scale attack in
Cambodia, which greatly accelerated America¹s involvment in this
conflict. The reaction from the American college student population
was one that led into great controversy and heated debates. When Nixon
announced his decision on the following day, many people were upset,
and thousands of people protested. The end result of one particular
protest was bloody, and a perfect example of what terrible shape our
country was in during that period of time (Guard Fired in Self
Defense). Thoughtless mistakes such as the ones made on that day will
often have a snowball affect that lead into problems for all persons
On May 3, 1970 students of Kent State University rallied to protest
Nixon¹s announcement. There was violent protesting all through the
night. Windows were broken, cars were destroyed, and the ROTC building
was burned to the ground. When the firemen arrived, their hoses were
taken by students and used aganist them. At that point Governor James
Rhodes called for the National Guard to come in and protect the
campus(Four Deaths at Noon).
The following day Kent State University was under the ³protection² of
the Ohio National Guard. Around noon on that day, students fromed in
protest. They were told to disperse, but refused. The first action of
the National Guard was to release tear-gas grenades upon the masses of
students (Guard Fired in Self Defense). These grenades were
marginally suscessful, and only caused a temporary retreat. The
students then responded by throwing concrerte, rocks, and everything
else they could find. This was the first of a group of poor decisions
that led to the bloody disaster of May 4, 1972 and all of the other
problems associated with the disaster (Kent State Continued).

From a distance of about sixty feet from the crowd of students, a
member of the National Guard believed that he heard sniper fire. In
response to these alleged shots, he opened fire on the students with
his M1 .30-06 caliber rifle. He was immediately backed up by several
of the men in his squad, all of whome were shooting the same rifle
except for one man who shot a military issue Colt .45. When the smoke
had cleared, ther had been about thirty-five shots fired, and four of
the students were dead. It is unknown exactly how many others weere
injured, but sources report from eleven to fourteen students and
onlookers. These lives were shed due to judgment. It is nothing more
than that. However, had this incident been handled in a better manner,
there would have been much less of a shock wave of emotions sweeping
through the country. (Olson)
The following day Governor Rhodes was accused by the campus senate of
bringing the troops in for political reasons, and the entire nation
was outraged about what had happened. There were countless protests
held against the war and this incident. Also, memorial ceremonies were
held all over the country. Nixon released a couple of statements that
showed no sorrow for the victims, but rather implied that that they
got what was coming to them. His basic argument was that violence
would only end in tragedy, and that people should demonstrate their
feelings peacefully if they felt it necessary to demonstrate them at
After a lengthy investigation, there there were several inditements
handed out, but they were not given to the shooters. The people
charged with crimes were the protesters. Eventually there was a
hearing for the shooters, but they were found not guilty. They argued
that they had been afraid for their lives and were left with no
option. Again the nation was outraged. At this point a massive
student strike was launched. At schools all over the country students
made violent protests against the government, but there was nothing
that could be done (Olson)
Nixon had been warned in a letter signed by thirty-seven university
and college presidents of the potential danger of students when he
launched his attacks, but he was seeing the results now on full scale.
He used the actions of these students to boost his campaign among
Republicans in America. He called the protesters ³bums², and blamed
them for many of the problems in the country. At this point one
poorly delt with mistake had turned into a major national issue and
caused a great deal of low patriotic morale (Four Deaths at Noon).
The entire nation was in shambles, and the actions of the citizens
reflected these feelings. It is clear that the Kent State incident was
a horrible mistake on the part of both the victims and on the
shooters, but with the way things had been going, it was predictable.
It was a very bad situation for the government, because there was no
solution to the problem. The most significant result of this entire
incident was a new fear of danger in the protesters. As with all
major incidents, it just kind faded away with time. Now it is just
another history lesson, but for someone who looks closely, it could be
much more.

Works Cited
1. ³Guard Fired in Self Defense² U.S. News & World Report 69:33-35 N
2 ^Ì70
2. ³Four Deaths at Noon² Life 68:30-35 My 15 ^Ì70
3. ³Kent State Continued: Justice Department Summary of FBI
Investigation² Time
96:16 N 9 ³70
4. Olson, James. A Dictionary of the Vietnam War. West Port,
Conn:Greenwood Press,1988

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