Four Dead in Ohio–Remembering and Speaking the Truth about Kent State

What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground?

(Photo of Allison Krause with her boyfriend, Barry Levine, taken not long before she was murdered at Kent State.)

13 seconds

67 shots

4 dead in Ohio

Tomorrow will be the 39th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State.

For some of us, it changed our view of the world. The killings were so unbelievable and so wrong we could never completely trust our government again.

Those who loved the dead, though, had their existence grabbed savagely and twisted sideways.

Tomorrow Allison Krause’s sister and Mendocino resident, Laurel Krause will speak at the Kent State memorial. She sent me a copy of her speech and I’d like to share excerpts with you.

39 years ago today, my sister, Allison Krause, was murdered by the Ohio National Guard for protesting and demonstrating against the Vietnam War. Also killed were Jeffrey, Sandra and William, and nine other Kent State students were seriously injured…

Allison was freshman at Kent State who was incredibly passionate about life. She was a peace-loving, confident, altruistic, honor-student wanting to get the most out of college, and she was also deeply in love with her boyfriend, Barry. As my older sister, Allison was someone I looked up to. … I still look up to her and continue to be inspired that the whole world may be changed by any real person, like you or me, walking forward with hope and living our ideals and truths.

Let me ask you, today, are you living your truth?

…Allison vehemently disagreed with the US government and its involvement in Vietnam so she assembled with many others and protested on Friday, the first of May, not knowing that she was putting her life in jeopardy, yet feeling strongly that the actions committed by our government were wrong. … As tensions heightened over the weekend, Allison called home to my parents to let them know what was happening on campus. My father told Allison to be cautious; he even asked her to back down and not involve herself. My parents, like most parents, were coming from a place of love for their daughter. They wanted her to be safe. But Allison was aware of the risks involved. Still, she never considered not protesting against something she was incredibly passionate about. …

The dispel process began that morning with leaders telling student protesters to go home or be arrested. Students responded to these infringements of rights by throwing rocks. Wearing gas masks, the National Guard used tear gas to exert control over the growing crowds.

After some time …, Guardsmen turned in unison and took aim.

The shooting lasted 13 seconds.

Dumdum bullets were used – a type of bullet that’s illegal in warfare – and explodes on impact.

My sister died in Barry’s arms. …

The Kent State shooting has changed all of our lives forever, both on the inside and the outside. My family lost its eldest child and were robbed from seeing her blossom in her life…. I lost my only sister and I miss her each day. …

Allison believed in making a difference. Being anti-war and pro-peace and harmony, she was called to action. Although it was not her clear intention, Allison spoke, participated in and died for what she believed in. The spirit of Allison asks “What are we but what we stand for?”

[Here Laurel speaks movingly of her environmental work and how she  struggles to create changes for the better. Then she continues.] Don’t hope for a new tomorrow, live it today and live your truth each day. We all make a difference by speaking our truths against all odds.

Through-out my life I looked to my big sister for inspiration.  Allison taught me the importance of living a life of intention and truth and I am now consciously and busily wishing to create my truths.

That is Allison’s message and it not just for me

… As we learn to speak our truth, even in the face of danger and opposition, we bring change and harmony.

So I ask you…and I ask you for Allison as well…how are you speaking your truth today?

While  it is easy to be complacent, to congratulate ourselves that these 4 deaths helped keep us from blindly following our leaders further into the morass of Vietnam, Laurel’s words remind us that even today no one has been held accountable for

13 seconds

67 shots

4 dead in Ohio

And still we keep stumbling after our leaders into wars without focus or meaning–where our soldiers and their civilians die horribly for reasons unclear to us all.

Keep the memory of Kent State alive, keep the questions alive, keep speaking the truths as they emerge and we WILL have change.  Maybe someday when our leaders call for us to head to Afghanistan, Iraq or another place, and protesters speak against the war, the rest of us will listen and not mock the patriotism and truths of those who speak out.

Maybe someday we just won’t go to war at all.

___________________________________________________
This collection of excerpts from the FBI report about the Kent State massacre is particularly haunting.

UPDATE: Please take the time to read a soldier’s point of view on As it Stands, local columnist’s, Dave Stancliff’s blog.

UPDATE2:  The full text of Laurel’s speech can be found here.


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39 comments

  • Beautifully said, Kym. (And Laurel.) Sorrow, truth and inspiration absorbed.

    • Neil Phillips

      Laurel:

      For those of us that knew Allison, time has not healed the wounds…Being a close friend of Jeff’s and a good friend of Sandy as well my heart and thoughts are with the loved ones of those murdered…Neil

  • I am deeply moved.

  • Thank you Kym for your eloquence, your undying support and your grace!

    I appreciate you!

    Laurel Krause

  • Laurel and Allison’s mother says thank you!

    Doris L. Krause

  • You honor her well. Bless you.

  • Thank you for this moving reminder, Kym.
    This tragic and outrageous event certainly changed my life. I was transformed from graduating senior to campus anti-war demonstrator, to college expellee, to jailbird, and then SoHum homesteader. What a long strange trip it’s been!

  • Thank you for remembering the Kent State murders.

    • And thank you, too. I hadn’t seen the last two photos you had posted. They make what happened at Kent State so real!

  • Thanks for the moving post. My (police) family was pro-military, so I recall my antipathy for the protesters. “They were asking for it,” I thought, as did millions of conservative Americans. But the awful sacrifices of the Krauses and other families were important contributions to decreasing support for our brutal campaign in Vietnam.

    I sincerely thank them for that.

  • More than four people died 40 years ago and some of us are still alive!

    “…keep speaking the truths as they emerge and we WILL have change.”

    “…protesters speak against the war, the rest of us will listen and not mock the patriotism and truths of those who speak out. Maybe someday we just won’t go to war at all.”

    “Keep speaking the truth”? How far did that get me with you? Fancy words and meaningless intentions do not get the job done. Change starts with you, Kym. You might start by trying to practice what you preach.

    • Joe, Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand what I felt were your riddles. Please feel free to rephrase things because at this point I can’t even remember the subtleties of the discussion because I ended up feeling so confused. Which is the same problem I’m having here with your statement. ‘More than four people died 40 years ago and some of us are still alive!”

      As far as I know, only 4 people died in the May 4th protests at Kent State. I agree a lot of us are still alive who were alive then. Did I miss something? Please clarify if you will.

    • Some of us are still alive and intend to stay that way… so practice what you preach?

      Like a bull in a china shop… like a chicken with its head cut off…
      the cliché monster strikes again

      Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn (ominous music)

      • Mr. Nice,

        If I could, I would privately email you but I can’t so …

        I’m feeling frustrated too but, on this blog I’d appreciate it if we all kept within at least an inch or two of my mom’s rule “IF you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all…”

        Disagreeing is great, pointing out why you have difficulty following a comment is good too but I would really appreciate it if mocking were kept between people who think it is funny.

        Feel free to mock me. I frequently deserve it and usually can take it. But I know that all people don’t feel the same. I hesitate to speak for Joe because every time I do, I end up inadvertently insulting him but, I’m guessing he isn’t wild about comments like yours.

        Humor me please.

        Thanks, She Who Knows That No Matter How Carefully She Walks She is Stepping in (close your eyes, Mom) Shit .

  • Today, the 39th anniversary of Kent State, I remember being in Cambodia. I was part of a strike force that was trying to get the NVA leadership that we knew were just within the Cambodian border. I remember the day clearly because I lost my best friend when we were ambushed in the Parrot Beak area.
    My grief increased the next day when I was interviewed by a war correspondent who told me that soldiers killed students at Kent State University who were protesting our incursion into Cambodia. The feeling was that we were expanding the war. A week or so later, we were odered to stop the chase, and returned back to Vietnam.
    That was it for me. I was so disallusioned that I nearly went AWOL.
    Yes…I remember this day. I lost the last of my innocence then.

  • I have posted elsewhere my responses to that day, as I was a high school senior 30 miles away from the incident and we were devastated and enraged by the killings and the lack of accountability. If the assassinations of Kennedy, King and Kennedy were not enough, this event was the death of innocence for me.
    There was no accountability then and there is no gov’t accountability now.
    As painful as losing a family member must surely be, she did not die in vain….her sacrifice stirred the conscience of the nation, and that photo was as iconographic as the my lai child running down the road burnt and screaming. Kent State galvanized the Peace Movement, the numbers at the demonstrations went up dramatically from then on. Bless her soul.
    The control of such photographs of war suffering were far more carefully managed by the military and MSM during the Iraq war which allowed the nation’s collective stupidity to go on far longer than it should have.
    I hope that her family is moved by these tributes and find more peace in the honor of her passing.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful post, Kym.

  • First, let me say that I believe that there was no justification to the shooting of the students. Absolutely no excuse for that!

    But, anyone that knows the whole story, and lived back then, knew that there was plenty of provocation for the shooting. The protesters were breaking windows, burning buildings, throwing rocks at people that disagreed with them, and causing general chaos. Shooting the students was a big mistake for the pro-war group. The whole world knew that shooting the students could not be justified, nor excused. (although it was excused through an out of court settlement)

    Any validity of any pro-war argument was de facto lost because of the killing of the students.

    As you know, I tried to do a “feeling of the times” post about The Kent State killings. The killings immediately polarized the world on the Viet Nam War. The was no one without and opinion after that.

  • Kym the only thing that I don’t like about your new blog format is that I still can’t go in and correct my typos. Like that last sentence. Plus there is no “preview” option, to make sure that all of your links work before posting.

    • Ernie, I wish there was something I knew how to do about the new preview issue but I’m clueless. Anybody who knows anything feel free to make suggestions.

      Ernie, I’m going to respond to both of your comments here. I think for me, I may not have agreed with what SOME of the students at Kent State were doing (though most of the destructive behavior happened on the previous days–and two of the students killed were not even protesting) and the murders made me look at our government with a jaundiced eye. As a 10 year old at the time, I had felt that the President made decisions based on what was moral and right. Kent State and the controversy surrounding it woke me to the realization that moral and right aren’t very high on the top of most leaders’ lists–big corporations, expansionism, and chest beating are.

      For me, the violent behavior such as throwing rocks and breaking windows and maybe burning down the ROTC building (I don’t think anyone is too sure what happened) were wrong. The peaceful protests , the chants, the refusal to disperse were right. But without the horror of what happened to the students, those killed and those injured, I’m not sure the students’ message would have reached me for many more years.

      For me, the pro war argument fell when exposed to the glare of light focused on it by Kent State. .

  • Thank you, Kym. Reading this was very moving.

  • Where’s the riddle? Can’t you read what you write?
    “Tomorrow will be the 39th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State.”
    and
    39 years ago today, my sister, Allison Krause, was murdered by the Ohio National Guard”

    What’s it say? 40 years? What else did you say?

    the rest of us will listen and not mock the patriotism

    Practice what you preach. TRY LISTENING! Then maybe you WON’T mock me with your inane comments. Is that subtle enough for you?

    • Joe, I’ve read both of your comments several times, and I still don’t have a clue what you are “blowing off” about. Sounds like you got up on the wrong side of the bed today.

    • Joe, I’m sorry but I cannot figure out what your complaint is. Ernie apparently understands but I don’t.

  • Kym, thank-you for the touching, poignant and timely post on the Kent State Killings, and thank-you for including the local relative of Allison Kraus in your post. It brings the loss of life into real perspective. I would like to read more discussion on this subject, I hope that some comments haven’t become too distracting.

    The “Riddler” has his point, but I feel he has let it become lost in his need to find fault in you personally, when his point would be much better served by saying what he disagrees with rather than being personal. I thought that your post was honest and unambiguous. Even if you were to instantly convert into “Saint Kym” it wouldn’t change what happened at Kent State.

    Sadly, the wrongness of what some of the protesters were doing was lost after the killings. Although the protests were made for a just an honest cause, the methods of protest were neither fair nor honest. The destruction of property by the protesters to call attention to themselves was not acceptable. All of the wrongness of the methods that were used was washed away by the slaughter of students. The end result is the protesters changed history by default. Their protest didn’t change history. Killing the protesters did, and, the rule of unintended consequences applies as a double negative, they didn’t intend to die, but their death achieved their goals. What an Ironic world that we live in!

    I have tried to have a conversation with the types of people that thought their destructiveness was justified, but their explanation comes across as pure insanity to me.

  • I just got lost in these oral transcripts of that day.

  • Laurel just posted her whole speech on her blog. It is very moving.
    http://mendocoastcurrent.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/speaking-your-truth/

  • On May 4,1970 i was a 20 year old college student in a conservative state. That evening,after learning about Kent State as well as the arrest of some protesting students locally, I participated in the takeover of our campus ROTC building. Nothing like this had ever happened here! That night was my first involvement with the antiwar movement with whom i had been ambivalent. I was angry that night but left the ROTC building after the takeover. In retrospect I don’t believe the takeover was justified due to the violence in the air. The next morming the building was peacefully evaucated althought police were ready to move in. There were no arrests and a peaceful student strike happened in this normally conservative state with a not large antiwar movement. Cooler heads prevailed that night. Since then I’ve always remembed 5/4/70 and visited Kent State in 1990 for the memorial. I had never done anything like this before. May those who died that fateful night rest in peace!

  • The deaths of those students, the behavior of the police/national guard (I know that some students often did destructive things, too, but my expectation is for the police/national guard to behave professionally.) and the shock of what we saw coming out of Vietnam radically changed the views of many Americans–it was a perfect storm.

  • A followup to my tast transmission. After the ROTC building was taken over on 5/4/70 the authorities left everyone who wanted to come enter. The building became very crowded. A rock and roll band even came and some were dancing. Obviously to dissipate tension . After the oonlookers left the hard core demonstrators remained. The irony of the band is that it may have encouraged some who otherwise may have left to stay feeling their cause would be labeled a spring fling. And their staying prolonged the situation. As you may know some students at Kent State had their pictures taken with National Guard on May 3. The next day the same guard shot some of them. The image of people dancing to a rock band in an occupied ROTC building on 5/4/70 still haunts me.

  • If I were writing a fictional piece about Kent State, I would have to include this nearby “concert.” There is something very symbolic about it.

  • Very well done. A poignant reminder of such a tragic and horrific time in our country, unfortunately one of many. And here we are 39 year later wrapped in but another war of power and greed with the only change being the masses of people so brainwashed that they don’t even seem to care anymore. Well I care, and it is heartening to see that you care too. Keep up the fine work.
    Peace and Blessing,
    Easy

    http://ohioeasy.worppress.com

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