English 3 CP
March 3, 2013
Kent State Shooting
On May 4, l970 members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent
State University killing four and wounding nine Kent State students. The
impact of the shootings was dramatic. The event triggered a nationwide student strike that
forced hundreds of colleges and universities to close. H. R. Haldeman, a top aide to
President Richard Nixon, suggests the shootings had a direct impact on national politics.
In The Ends of Power, Haldeman states that the shootings at Kent State began the
slide into Watergate, eventually destroying the Nixon administration. Beyond the direct
effects of the May 4th, the shootings have certainly come to symbolize the deep political
and social divisions that so sharply divided the country during the Vietnam War era.
In the nearly three decades since May 4, l970.
The decision to bring the Ohio National Guard onto the Kent State University
campus was directly related to decisions regarding American involvement in the Vietnam
War. Richard Nixon was elected president of the United States in 1968 based in part on his
promise to bring an end to the war in Vietnam. During the first year of Nixon's presidency,
America's involvement in the war appeared to be coming down. In late April of 1970,
however, the United States invaded Cambodia and widened the Vietnam War. This
decision was announced on national television and radio on April 30, l970 by President Nixon.
The most important question associated with the events of May 4 is why did members of
the Guard fire into a crowd of unarmed students? Two quite different answers have been
advanced to this question: (1) the Guardsmen fired in self-defense, and the shootings were
therefore justified and (2) the Guardsmen were not in immediate danger, and therefore the
shootings were unjustified.
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