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The Cold War was an unforgettable war fought in many uncountable different ways, shapes, and forms. Many controversies uprose, and unforgivable events occured right in front of our eyes. Among many of the wars fought during this time was the Vietnam War, the war separating ideas and views from North and South Vietnam. However, it wasn’t a battle with only Vietnamese troops. Many American troops were sent consistently to help South Vietnam. This simple controversy had begun protests, and eventually led to the Kent State Massacre: a horrible occurrence in Ohio killing 4 college students, and injuring more. Beginning in the 1960’s, there were many protests against Americans being involved in the Vietnam War. Since it didn’t affect us, many American citizens thought that there was no purpose in injuring our troops for someone else’s troubles. In 1968, Richard M. Nixon was elected into office because of his promise to end the Vietnam War once and for all. In the beginning of his term, he seemed to be successful in doing so. Military operations in Vietnam were slowly decreasing. However, this would quickly change. Beginning in the 1960’s, there were many protests against Americans being involved in the Vietnam War. Since it didn’t affect us, many American citizens thought that there was no purpose in injuring our troops for someone else’s troubles. In 1968, Richard M. Nixon was elected into office because of his promise to end the Vietnam War once and for all. In the beginning of his term, he seemed to be successful in doing so. Military operations in Vietnam were slowly decreasing. However, this would quickly change. Numerous amounts of protests (as well as attempts to stop these protests) were made by the people to prevent the help of Americans in the Vietnam War. While many of them were unsuccessful, they continued to stay determined and fight for what they thought was right peacefully. At least, sort of peacefully. Rumors of the invasion had spread before the actual announcement given by Nixon. A day after the invasion, on May 1, at Kent State University in Ohio, hundreds of college students were rounded up on the Common. This was an area mainly for demonstrations at the center of campus. Here, speakers (mainly college students) talked about their opinions on President Nixon and the war. At nighttime in downtown Kent, chaos broke. Traffic was stopped by students, bonfires were lit on the streets, and cars were hit with rocks and bottles. The mayor of Kent, Leroy Satrom, called a state of emergency and ordered the all the bars in the city to be closed. The closing of the bars only made protesters more angry, and the protests increased greatly. The police moved the protesters eventually using tear gas to disperse them. The Ohio National Guard was sent by Governor Rhodes to calm tensions and keep the peace in Kent and Kent State University. The Guard quickly mobilized, as they were already on duty. However, before they arrived, protesters had set the school’s ROTC building on fire. Another huge clash between protesters and the guard occurred which increased tensions instead of decreasing it. History.com writes that “the scene was more like that of a war zone than a college campus”. Multiple dozens of arrests were made that night, with the protesters staying strong on what they believed in and continuing the hustle. On May 1, in order to prohibit and keep the calm for another planned protest, 100 Ohio National Guardsmen stood at the scene. In their hands were M1 Military rifles. 3,000 people (many of them were college students) were also there, ready for another day of protesting. The protest was initially peaceful, but after guardsmen asked them to disperse, the crowd stirred with anger. The protesters began shouting at the guardsmen and threw rocks at them as well. As they feared for their lives, Ohio National Guardsmen were willing to save their own lives at any cost: including a massacre. General Canterbury, leader of the Ohio National Guard, commanded the army to to fire tear gas into the angry mob. The protesters were forced to walk up and to the other side of Blanket Hill. At the other side of the hill was a gate blocking further access, and the army realized that they were trapped. To prevent this, they turned around back to the other side of the hill once again. As they were going back up and around Blanket Hill, 29 soldiers turned around and suddenly opened fire at and above the students. 70 shots were fired by the men in total, and this ended up up killing 4 students. This tragic event resulted in the loss of Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder, and Sandra Scheuer. An additional 9 defenseless protesters were greatly injured by the shooting. Immediately after the shooting, Kent State University was ordered to be closed. For 6 weeks straight, the campus was shut down. At the time, it seemed like more of a crime scene than a college campus. In their defense, the Ohio National Guardsmen stated that they only used their weapons to protect themselves from the protestors. Nevertheless, many people didn’t believe that they were under such a great threat that they had to use force. The Guard finally agreed, however, to pay an amount of $675,000 for the ones who were injured during the horrible occurrences of May 4, 1970. They officially signed a statement saying that their decisions of shooting the protesters was wrongful, no matter the reason. The students had their right to protest, and using weapons against them wasn’t right. John Filo, a photographer, is well known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning picture that he took during the tragedies of the Kent State Shootings. It shows a graphic image of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over and looking at Jeffrey Miller in despair. The events of the Kent State Shootings directly symbolizes the public division of US involvement in the war.  It additionally changed the view of many people about what protests actually do. For example, people began to question whether protests help a cause or harm the citizens. Was the protesters’ strong beliefs really worth the pain, struggle, and preparation? A grave and violent future between law enforcers and protesters was anticipated by many. Furthermore, because of these constant protests, President Nixon eventually stopped the advance of troops into Vietnam. This caused a huge celebration from protesters. Neil Young, a musician and singer, wrote a song solely dedicated to the victims of the massacre, supporting the protests and its cause. The short composition talks about how “soldiers were cutting us students down” and “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming Ohio National Guard and Richard Nixon”. The influential song taught more people about the devastating shooting and its effects using very minimal words (). In conclusion, the Vietnam War was a massive war with many aspects, some positive and some negative. The Kent State Massacre was one of the negative events during the “war” in America. The four students’ deaths are and will not be forgotten nor ignored. The shootings have taught some major and minor lessons to the world. It showed that standing up for what you believe should be supported, and that doing the right thing will always prevail. The students at Kent State suffered through many difficulties and hardships, but they soon achieved what they were fighting for. As the big message, the Vietnam War teaches students that small events (such as US involvement in the war) can end up affecting a grand population in the end.

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