The Shocking “Kent State” Massacre! Anti-War Protests! CSN&Y! An Era Of Political Activism!


48 Years Ago Today…

I am a student of political history, and recent protest marches, and the reaction of the new administration, remind me of an era of political activism surrounding the Vietnam War in the late 60’s and early 70’s. One of the most disturbing photos in modern political history resonates even more today…

“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.”


The “Kent State Massacre”:

It was a shocking headline: four college students gunned down by the National Guard during an anti-war protest at Kent State University in Ohio in 1970.

As wikipedia states:

“The Kent State shootings (also known as the May 4 massacre or the “Kent State Massacre”) occurred at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, in the United States and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970.


An anti-war protest on the campus of Kent State University turned violent when soldiers fired on the students. As wikipedia reports:

“There were 28 soldiers who admitted to firing on top of the hill, 25 of these soldiers fired 55 rounds into the air and into the ground, two of the soldiers fired .45cal pistol shots, three into the crowd, and three into the air…”


The National Guard soldiers fired 67 rounds of bullets in only 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.



The most shocking image of this massacre was the photo of Mary Ann Vecchio, shown weeping over the body of Jeffrey Miller, a student shot by the National Guard. This Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph was taken by photojournalism student John Filo in the immediate aftermath of the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970.

This photograph was seen around the world, and immediately afterwards, four million student protestors took to the streets and closed college campuses across the country.

I was too young at the time, but I found photos of the protestors who shut down Seattle’s freeway to protest the murders:



“Four Dead In Ohio…”

This galvanizing moment in our country’s history was pivotal in turning the nation against the war in Vietnam.


Neil Young saw the headlines about the Kent State massacre and immediately sat down to write his brilliant protest song. Within weeks, the song was released and became an anti-war anthem.

“What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?”

Here is a great video from YouTube by “Mitch Mumby”, taking the song and covering it with stills and videos from those turbulent times.


“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.”

The song immediately became an anti-war anthem…here is a live performance from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1971:


During the same session they recorded another song as the B-side, Stephen Stills’s powerful ode to everyone killed in the war, “Find the Cost of Freedom”.

“Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down”

Here is Stephen Stills performing the song live:

Recent protest marches across the country have galvanized people – I took part in the march last year in Chicago:


This women’s march became a global event, with people participating around the world…see more photos from the Chicago rally here:

This was a peaceful, positive event, but unfortunately, as the Kent State tragedy showed, there is always the danger of violence whenever there are protests. In fact, there is a film that captured police violence against protestors as it was happening:

Medium Cool movie

Medium Cool

The brilliant film “Medium Cool” was filmed during the summer of 1968, when Chicago protestors descended on the Democratic National Convention, where this happened:


Anti-war protestors were attacked by police, and the “Medium Cool” filmmakers captured it in their movie…see more about this incredible film here:

48 years later, it’s important to remember tragic events like this so history doesn’t repeat itself…


Categories: 70's Music, Action Films, Art, Books / Media, chicago, Classic Rock, Cult Movies, documentary films, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Independent Cinema, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Movies, Music, Obscure Music, Politics, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show

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6 replies

  1. Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:

    48 years ago today…

  2. Shocking that such a thing happened but I do remember the era and discussing the event at a youth retreat that spring. I agree we need to know and understand our history to avoid repeating it.

  3. I was 18 at the time, and well recall the coverage and subsequent protests over here about the shootings at KSU. I had also seen ‘Medium Cool’ at the National Film Theatre the year before, if I remember correctly.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Pete, there is VERY LITTLE acknowledgment of the tragedies of the past here in the US, and that always leads to “history repeating itself” in some way or another…troubling times here…thanks as always for your comment!


  1. Crosby Stills Nash See “Daylight Again”! Terrific Music From Stephen Stills And Graham Nash! The “Reluctant” Return Of David Crosby! – johnrieber
  2. “Dialogue Part 1 & 2”! Classic Protest Music By Chicago! “We Can Make It Happen” Resonates Today! – johnrieber

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