What happened at Kent State University? This is a question that many Americans were asking following the crisis on the Kent campus. In the days preceding May 4, 1970, protests, disruption, and violence erupted on the university grounds. These acts were the students’ reaction to President Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. The events surround the deaths of four students in Kent, Ohio are disorderly and violent. In the government’s investigation after the shootings, the officials made several recommendations to students of the future. As the massacre is looked back upon, there are several key events that set the tragic day into motion.
On April 30, 1970, when Nixon gave a speech announcing his invasion of Cambodia, anti-war factions rose up across the United States. In the speech he stated that, “If, when the chips are down…the world’s most powerful nation, the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and institutions around the world. I would rather be a one term president and do what I believe is right than to be a two term president at the cost of seeing America become a second rate power.” Students did not agree with Nixon and protests cropped up on university campuses in the days that followed his speech. Amongst these protesters were students of Kent State University, “The Cambodian invasion defined a watershed in the attitude of Kent students toward American policy in the Indochina War.” At this point, the first two days of May, the students were protesting Nixon’s actions. While the cou...
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...versities had shut down in response to the events at Kent State.
In conclusion, the Kent State shooting was a tragedy that has never really had anyone held responsible. Thirty-eight years later, “Official investigations as to exactly what happened at Kent State were inconclusive.” The days preceding the shootings, the students burned down the ROTC building, protested on the commons, and threw rubbish at police officers. The violent actions of the students put the law enforcement officials and National Guardsmen around them on edge. On the other side, the Guardsmen arrived in full combat gear to put down unarmed college students. There was no reason for the soldiers to fire at the students that were hundreds of feet away from them. Whether one of the soldiers fired in a moment of panic or if they were order to commence shooting may never be known.
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