Ordered to Fire

So now we know. An analysis of the audiotape made on May 4, 1970, at Kent State indicates that the National Guardsmen were ordered to fire. So much for the “young, untrained, panicky troops” argument. That one always seemed fishy:  how does one explain the Guard kneeling in formation and the fusillade of 67 shots?

The Guardsmen were ordered by a superior officer (and maybe ultimately by Governor James Rhodes) to fire on students assembling on their own college campus to protest President Nixon’s decision to expand an unlawful war in Vietnam into Cambodia.

Four unarmed students died. The gunfire killed Allison Krause, an honor student. Jeffrey Miller was shot in the mouth and died instantly. Bill Schroeder was shot in the back. Sandy Scheuer was merely walking to class; she bled to death from a bullet wound in the throat. Nine others were wounded. Their average distance from the National Guard position was well over 300 feet, too far away to pose a threat.

It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a “mistake.” Someone gave a command.

Let me know what you think.

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2 Responses to Ordered to Fire

  1. Kathy says:

    I don’t make a distinction between the war and what happened at KSU. They’re part of the same syndrome. What we don’t like, fear, or understand, we shoot or drop a bomb on.

    Or inject. Ohio’s about to break a record for executions.

    All about killing as a way of addressing a problem.

  2. Joel Couch says:

    Yesteday, I listened to Jimi Hendrix playing “Machine Gun”, a recording from New Years 1970. For me the information is all there coming out of his amplifier about the misery that war can cause. It breaks my heart to think that American hasn’t learned a goddamn thing on this subject in the 40 years since then. The information is all around us and has been all around all of our lives, but intoxication of power imagery impacts our egos so strongly that the meaning doesn’t hit home. We are the invaders. We are the transgressors. Other peoples are paying the high price because we are in love with military power.

    Not all nations have had this problem. European nations had their cities reduced to rubble and nearly every family paid a personal cost in the two world wars. Japan paid a high price and lost its taste for military adventure, for awhile.

    It’s sad that a couple of people lost their lives in Kent. It’s also sad that thousands of Americans died in Asia, but it was a war. A war that we started. Apparently the cost must be much higher before America will lose its taste for the glamor of military power. If several major cities were ravaged, it might wake up some, but only some, and after a generation, we will have unlearned the lesson, I fear. What does it take?

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