On this day in 1970, four students lay dead with nine others injured as the Ohio National Guard opens fire on a peaceful protest at Kent State University. The gunfire erupted during a mass protest against the bombing of Cambodia by United States military forces, another aerial initiative announced April 30 by President Nixon.
Twenty-eight guardsmen fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. Some of those injured had simply been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.
There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of 4 million students, and the event further affected public opinion, at an already socially contentious time, over the role of the US in the Vietnam War.
Whilst the slow US drawdown in Southeast Asia had been underway since a peak of nearly 600,000 troops in 1968, Nixon’s bombing campaigns were designed to jockey for position and negotiate a more “dignified” exit for himself and war planners during the Paris Peace Talks. Hence, countless thousands of Allied troops and innocent civilians perished up to and through the “official” US withdrawal of March, 1973 so Nixon could look like a “winner.”
The four kids at Kent State can be appended to the war dead.