Health Editor’s Note: At this time in history the National Guard members were draft dodgers who not only did not go to Vietnam, but also did not have the integrity to stand against the war they did not have the guts to fight….Carol
How 13 Seconds Changed Kent State University Forever
by Vince Guerrieri/Smithsonianmag.com
Across the country, as Americans practice social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, graduation ceremonies are moving from grand auditoriums and campus greens to the virtual space. The commencement at Kent State University is likewise moving online, which normally wouldn’t be all that extraordinary. Except that this year, the school was set to commemorate 50 years since the last time graduation didn’t happen after National Guard troops fired upon a crowd on campus, killing four and wounding nine others.
For the past half-century, Kent State has been trying to live down those 13 seconds of bloodshed on Monday, May 4, 1970. Five days prior, President Richard Nixon publicly stated the Vietnam War had expanded into Cambodia, sparking unrest at college campuses nationwide, including at Kent State, a teacher’s college in Northeast Ohio that had a small, but particularly militant, chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. That Friday night, protestors broke windows and threw bottles at police cars. The next day, the ROTC building on campus was set ablaze; arson was suspected, but nobody was ever apprehended. Local officials asked that the university close down, but Ohio Governor James Rhodes—who himself was running in a contested Republican primary for U.S. Senate—called in the National Guard.