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Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming"

kent state president-nixon.jpg
"Tin Soldiers" & President Nixon

Thirty six years ago, on May 4, 1970, an anti-war student demonstration at Kent State University, Ohio left four students dead, one paralyzed, and eight others wounded.

The demonstration ended when the National Guard fired into the crowd of students. The shootings ended the lives of four students Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder, and Sandra Scheuer.

Shortly thereafter, Neil Young wrote what would become an anthem of a generation -- the song "Ohio" in memory of the "Four dead in Ohio".

Over the years, Thrasher's Wheat has received more mail and comments on this song than almost any other Young song. Comments like this from Jodi:
"I just would like to say that I am a 23 old student and I am doing a speech on CSNY during the protest era, mainly the song 'Ohio'. I would have to say that this song has touched me and it has become one of my favorite songs. It is tragic what happened to the students, especially when I read two of those who died were just walking to their next class. This song puts me in a time I was never in and I apprecitate the music as well as the students."

The song "Ohio" was an anthem to a generation in the 1970's. Here's how Neil remembers the song from liner notes of the Decade album:

"It's still hard to believe I had to write this song. It's ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students. Probably the most important lesson ever learned at an American place of learning. David Crosby cried after this take."

For more on the song, the historic aftermath of its impact, and photos of the day, see Lyrics Analysis of Neil Young's song "Ohio".

Open Comment Thread Below includes letters to the editor.


At 4/14/2006 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even after 35 years, this song still brings tears to my eyes. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Neil (my favorite artist) said it all very well.

At 4/14/2006 10:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there and I can tell you that it has never left me - and with recent world events, I find myself going back more and more to the music of that time because it speaks to me now. We were so intense back then and really felt things and thought that we were changing things...I look at my life now and while I've done the best I can I realize that we changed nothing.

At 4/14/2006 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was a 19 year old marine on a bus to play war games and we heard over a radio what just happened at kent state,and we made up our mind,if they send us to kill american students,we were not going to go.really we were scared to death,especially me cause i was an m-60 machine gunner.
joe burroughs

At 4/14/2006 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't born until '72, but from everything I've heard and read,this Iraq thing is the same as the Vietnam thing. Take heed to the words to this song, for history has a funny way of repeting itself. Nixon/Bush; what's the difference?
C. Cook

At 4/14/2006 10:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

vietnam tho a horrific time in our history, became the greatest time for musicians, like niel young and others that made great songs about this time in history,,the only difference from that time to now {iraq} is,,we have little to show musically , you hear nothing about the war in music, its like its being ignored out of fear from what happened during the vietnam era.

At 4/14/2006 10:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm 17 and when i first learned of this event about 5 years ago it broke my heart. I was no longer going to be one of the tolerant and everytime I hear "Ohio" I cry. They could have been something more than another number while America sits idly by claiming murder for freedom. It has always been them and us, and i just want everyone to know i am just like them...human.

At 4/14/2006 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 16 and Canadian, and that song is the saddest I have ever heard. In no way do I not like the United States, but events like these always seem to be forgotten when wars are again started by this superpower.
Al Sieben

At 4/14/2006 10:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

people say that the us is the land of is it that possible when people cant speak freely... i know it's somewhat different...but with all this single tracked society, i fear that the future for the U.S. won't be good...i can't say what Nixon was...i wasn't around...

At 4/14/2006 10:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Nixon was a great man.
Han Baby

At 4/15/2006 09:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this site. I hope you will maintain it forever!

Americans must never forget what happens when the rights of citizens to assemble and petition Government for a redress of their grievances is not protected, but met with a hail of bullets instead. The reason we must never forget is so that we do not allow it to ever happen again.

I disagree with the assessment of Richard Nixon by Han Baby. Nixon was not a great man. He was a man whose own insecurities led him to ignore the rule of law he had sworn to uphold. Nixon's law-breaking, like Bush's, led to calls for his impeachment.

I for one think it is thrilling that once again Neil Young is the mistral sounding the call. I can't wait to hear Neil's new "metal folk protest" album, "Living With War."


At 4/22/2006 04:55:00 PM, Blogger fahrender said...

there is very little art that has a political message which succeeds as art. neil young's "Ohio" is not only successful as art, it's a masterpiece.

i was a college professor in 1970. i worked in a band camp that summer. i stayed in a dormitory at Rio Grande College. right next to me were some high school kids from Warren, Qhio. they were very politically aware. they were really polite and friendly as well as being deeply angry at what had happened at Kent State. they introduced me to the music of CSNY and i will never forget them.

Neil Young's work over the years hasn't been very consistent but when he's good he's fantastic. in the film "Heart of Gold", which is showing across the country now, he sings a song "When God Made Me" with the Fisk University Singers doing backup. without mentioning Bush's name or saying the word republican Young shines a brilliant light on the kind of false religiosity that has been used to lead America down the wrong path once more......

Jim Young
McMinnville, OR

At 4/23/2006 04:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 21 year old college student,and I am very much a part of the anti-war movement today. What happened at Kent State shocks me to this very day. It was a tragic event, that four young students no older than myself, had their promising lives cut short by bullets. In my opinion, the guardsmen got away with murder. They were not boxed in, and the closest person who was shot was at least 30 yards away, some were 100 yards away or more!!! The guardsmen were murderers, and though they escaped the eyes of the law, they will not escape the eyes of GOD!!

At 4/28/2006 09:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's interesting that it took the insight and sentiments of a foreigner (Neil Young is a Canadian)to bring out the obvious hypocracy of American politics, and energize a cowed populace.


At 5/04/2006 02:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that it can happen again. I'm not knocking the military or soldiers, but I think that everyone can admit that there are some men wearing those uniforms that can't wait to just shoot something.

Some in the military consider civilians as a lighter shade of "enemy."

At 5/04/2006 03:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's true.On the news it all looks so clean,that being military targets being struck,but as an American pilot said after awhile you get bored and bomb everything in sight !

At 5/04/2006 05:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of you who have not been to the site you should know it is a disgrace to the memory of the four that died that day. They basically occupy four parking spots in the lot that they died in - you can park your car on either side of them. There is a modest placque to their memory. Walking through the site with the constant ringing of Neil and David in the back of your head is eerie given the deplorable display at the site.

At 5/04/2006 08:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why Kent State is important today - The Boston Globe By Michael Corcoran : "This year's memorial will come, as the last three have, in the midst of a war that has become increasingly divisive. While the memory of Kent State and other violent clashes from that time between protesters and authorities did not deter the incumbent president from leading the country into another unpopular war, it is important to honor Kent State's spirit of dissent and what it taught about the bloody consequences of intense division."

At 5/04/2006 08:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Kent State is not about the past -- it's about the future."

J. Gregory Payne, associate professor of organizational and political communication at Emerson College and a Kent State historian on remembering why this tragedy is important.

At 5/04/2006 10:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The song said "should have been done long ago..." exactly what my father said when he heard the news.

This was the moment I realized my father really was a fascist and that I wasn't just over-reacting to his bullying, harrassment and abuse of me and my mother. I was thirteen. He didn't know those kids, and he was acting like their lives were nothing because they'd chosen the wrong side of an issue that was polarizing Americans of every age, race, and social class.

That song and what happened that day echoes down the generations.

People wanting to find out more about what happened should be sure to read "Mayday" by Gregory Payne and check out The May 4 Archive.

At 5/04/2006 11:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my mother was there and she was pushed out of the way into the bathroom by one of the people who was injured.... all my life i have heard this song as well is Cicillia by simon and Garfunkel, because i t was blared over the speakers during the shootings.... it is very significant to me today as well as everytime i hear it!

At 5/05/2006 03:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Mr. Man on this one, Neil Young is a dickhead. Worst of all though, he is from Canada. I hate those fucking Canadians, why are anyone caring about what they're saying. They're fucking lowlife scum.
And yes you should all get a life, caring about your country's history and politics is just a waste of time.

At 5/05/2006 07:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you and Mr. Man should move in together and have retarded Republican babies. Idiots.

At 5/05/2006 07:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

America is like a beauty queen,it's gorgeous until it opens it's mouth.

At 5/05/2006 07:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this bullshit about Neil being from Canada.Every other country hates Bush and co.
The problem with you Yanks is you stole the land and have no History.You're feeling insecure because you have no culture,so you bomb fuck out of any Country because you have the military power and no brains !

At 5/05/2006 08:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Yankees better watch it ... or we will come down there and burn your Whitehouse down AGAIN! hehe

At 5/05/2006 03:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The demonstration is nearly always called an anti-Vietnam demonstration. But wasn't it against the U.S. invasion of Cambodia? Let's not forget those poor folk either.

At 5/05/2006 05:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on now. Taking my post about me agreeing with Mr Man seriously is just plain stupid. And while my post wasn't exactly funny I think it did an ok job with pointing out the stupidity of Mr Mans post. Atleast the last sentence should have given you a hint at the sarcasm in my post. And no, I'm not from the US. One would think that my limited English skills would have given that away.

At 5/05/2006 07:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't really claim to be a true Neil Young fan if you get angry with him because he uses his talents as his forum to communicate his feelings. His feelings generally match ours, which is why we identify with and like him, but not always. Which is also why we should like him and respect him. The fact that you so blindly follow your leaders, even when it's obvious they are wrong, lends credence that you too are "flip-floppers" by saying you USED to love Neil Young and now you don't. Whether you believe the man speaks the truth or not, he speaks (sings) knowing that not all will agree. If this were some lame-ass attempt to make money, which I've never heard anyone that supposedly loves and knows Neil say, then they really don't know Neil. I imagine he makes the music that comes to his head and doesn't really give a rats ass if you think it's crap or not. In fact, sometimes after awhile he thinks it's crap too I imagine.

I imagine most people wanted to support their country and president and struggled with the decision to go to war. Felt forced into by the actions of fanatical muslims, but when does it stop? When do we go to far? We rightly go after the terrorists in Afganistan and yet we don't stop there. Now we're in a mess in Iraq with no seemingly way out and Iran scared we are going after them next and threatening the world. Do we have to go through this for another 10 years, waiting for enough people to die and students to protest and presidents to change to end this thing? Even today most conservatives I know, don't say Vietnam was a mistake, they say it was a mistake that we didn't fight to win. That mentality still exists with this war and after enough of our soldiers are brought back in body bags finally somebody will take notice and try and stop it. Then we'll fight each other. Who's right, who's wrong?
I'd rather be happy than right.

At 5/07/2006 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Thrasher,perhaps we can go back to talking about the genius of Neil Young !
Fantastic website by the way !!
Carry on, love is coming !

At 5/08/2006 01:13:00 PM, Blogger lazerlou said...

Mr. Man/ Chili

Your stupidity shines through.

It is "empirical" as in "empirical evidence" not "imperial."

And you dare call the rest of us "dropouts" ??????????

At 5/08/2006 05:20:00 PM, Blogger lazerlou said...

Says the man whose first post anywhere on these boards was an off-the-wall personal attack filled with threats! Tnow that is rich. Time to look in the mirror Mr. Man. I know you are intellectually impotent. It is clear even to the most casual obsever of the "imperial" evidence! But do you understand that?

At 5/08/2006 09:47:00 PM, Blogger lazerlou said...

Mr. Manboobs,
(see how easy that is?)

God is dead, and you have killed him.

Do you recognize any problems or inconsitencies with calling me "lazerpig," and in the same message then saying "Peace man and God be with you"? Just wondering how the uneducated mind works.

At 5/09/2006 12:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess: He made you look like the right wing fool you are when you were posting anonymously?

At 11/22/2006 08:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Japanese military had better sense than give grunts live ammo in sensitive situations ... in sensitive circumstances the officers carried the ammo, and issued it when and if necessary. But maybe they had better trained officers. jn25b

At 12/01/2006 04:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in Germany at the time of the student killings in Ohio and remember saying to a few I was stationed with. "Hell they don't give us live rounds in the real military what are they doing giving week-end warriors live rounds." None of us could understand this then, and I still don't today.

At 12/20/2006 10:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a 19 year old student protesting the war at CCNY that day. It could have been me.

I have a 19 year old daughter today and she protests against the war in Iraq. It could have been her.

Wake up, America. The same National Guard still has live ammunition - but now they're shooting at Iraqis rather than helping people in New Orleans.

It could have been you.

Never forget May 4, 1970.

At 1/07/2007 12:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was only one when the shootings at Kent State happened. As a gay man who came out during protests on Ohio State's campus in 1990 and knowing the proud history of the Ohio Union at Ohio State having served on the Ohio Unions Board as a student(the only building on campus to remain open to offer shelter to protesters during the mandated curfews during the war protests), the Kent State Shootings always resonated with me.

Having spent so many years in the city of Columbus, passing the statue of James Rhodes on Capital Square always turned my stomach... passing the James Rhodes Office Tower, the tallest building in Columbus always made me gag. It absolutely disgusts me that this man is so memorialized in the my home state.

At 1/11/2007 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kent State fact that led to killings: The so-called "peaceful demonstration" left so much violence and destruction to public and private property that the National Guard had to be called in. The so-called "peaceful demonstrators" attacked the police, firemen, and the National Guard. The so-called "peaceful demonstrators" were supposedly protesting violence and were the main culprits in the first place. The so-called "peaceful demonstrators" should have helped the National Guard stop the violence and destruction, since they were supposedly for "peace."

At 1/21/2007 03:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old enough to remember, you say that a lack of "peaceful" demonstration on the part of the students is what lead to the killings??? Are you therefore saying that you believe that the students were the "main culprits" behind the actions of the National Guard? The "main culprits" in their own deaths? I, for one, am having a hard time comprehending your logic. Your words tend to remind me of the comments that were made in the weeks that followed the killings; "If they were there, they deserved to be shot." How sad that there are still some out there who believe that the actions of the students warranted a sentance of death. I dare to say that although you may be "old enough to remember", you have forgotten much of what we stood for in those days. Love and Peace, babydoll22855

At 1/27/2007 02:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My all time favorite song by my favorite group. It captures the very essense of that moment in time. It is the greatist rock song ever written with a great beat, anger, and poetry all coming together. Since 74 they have been playing it slow more like a ballad. Last summer's tour was the first time I've ever seen them do it live the right way with passion.

At 5/01/2007 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today (Tuesday May 1, 2007), news agencies reported that on a tape recording made at Kent State on that day "Right here! Get Set! Point! Fire!" was shouted by someone just before the volley of gunfire.
I was in the service, actually, at the time (Navy), but still that chilling command takes me back to that time...that feeling. And there is still a Mayor Daley in Chicago. Some things seem locked in time.
Allison, Bill, Jeff, and Sandra. Not forgotten.

At 4/02/2009 01:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4/2/09 The forces which caused this tragedy are ever stronger as they push for global domination, world enslavement and genocide. Nixon was a globalist, as are all his successors. The puppet regimes of the Bush's and Obama, simply do what they are told to do.

At 6/16/2009 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous dr dip said...

"Just singin' a song won't change the world".....

but isn't it amazing, with all the atrocities,genocides and holocausts happening throughout the world, that one song can have soo much gravity, soo much impact, instil soo much rage and disgust highlighting an incident in history that in a scale of world catastrophes is relatively small but will always be that powerful in song, that its effect on people can still bring them to tears to this very day.
Yeah the songs of the 70's, especially CSNY'S, such as "Find the cost of Freedom" ,"Chicago" "Wooden ships" are still relevant and powerful in their poignancy and impact to today

Yep... "singin a song CAN change the world"!!

At 2/10/2011 05:20:00 PM, Anonymous john c said...

Maybe the dumbass hippees should have stopped the liberal protesting and gone to class like they were supposed to and guard would not have had to shoot at these violent left wing nuts.

At 2/11/2011 12:23:00 PM, Anonymous j rose said...

I saw csny in cleveland ohio 40 years ago,just after kent state. the stadium was jam packed and no music ever tied together the feelings like neil singing ohio. nothing in my life has ever came close to duplicating the feeling there and never will. i have seen this man play many times and love him like my brother. long may you run. j rose

At 2/11/2011 12:25:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@john c - wow. that was profound. since when did the truth become a left/right issue? check your facts and check back.

At 11/13/2011 01:58:00 AM, Blogger slimpicker said...

I did a few hours of research, mostly on Kent State University's website, and I conclude that Neil Young and many others lack the majority of the facts about the incident.

This is all from Kent State's Dept. of Sociology.

I suggest anyone who is considering opining about the incident to read the conducted study that appears on the aforementioned website link, as well as information regarding the FBI informant who may have triggered the shootings.

Here are some key facts that most people don't know or choose to ignore when voicing his or her own opinions. I list them summarily, so please do your own research from credible sources, such as the Kent State University website, before dismissing them or taking my word for it:

1. The protesters did provoke the guardsmen, throwing rocks, glass bottles, and even setting a university building on fire. However, only one guardsmen was treated for serious injuries.

2. The protests occured for 4 days leading up to the shootings, and quickly turned violent on the first day.

3. President Nixon was not directly involved with the incident or with the orders for the Ohio National Guard. Kent Mayor Leroy Satrom declared a state of emergency after the first day of violent protests and asked Governor James Rhodes' for assistance.

4. Nearly 3000 students held demonstrations for 3 days straight, disobeying a lawful order by law enforcement and Kent State University officials to cease all gatherings and protests. Because of the escalated violence and burning and vandalizing of downtown business buildings and the campus' ROTC building, courts later ruled the order did not violate civil liberties.

5. Governor Rhodes ordered the Ohio Guard onto the campus on the second night, May 2, 1970 (2 days prior to the shootings).

6. The students were not fleeing when the Guard initially opened fire.

7. Only one of the students shot, Sandy Schreuer, was a passerby walking to class and not part of the demonstration.

8. Although federal prosecutors indicted 8 of the guardsmen shortly after the shootings, all charges for each of them were dismissed.

9. "The answer offered by the Guardsmen is that they fired because they were in fear of their lives...Federal criminal and civil trials have accepted the position of the Guardsmen."

10. The guardsmen tried using tear gas and numerous warnings and arrests prior to and including the day of the shooting, yet none of this was effective in quelling the unrest.

11. FBI informant Terry Norman, who took part in the protest and was carrying a .38 pistol and a gas mask, could have fired four rounds just before the Ohio guardsmen opened fire into the crowd.

All of the above information, except #11, is from a study conducted by the Kent State University's Department of Sociology, published in 1998.

Information about the FBI informat did not surface until 2010, which is why the Kent State study did not mention it.

Audio forensics experts claimed that shots matching the acoustic signature of a .38 caliber pistol rang out some 70 seconds before Ohio Guardsmen opened fire. The guardsmen carried .30 caliber M1 Garand rifles.

At 11/13/2011 11:57:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@slimpicker - thanks for research. Yes, everything you state except #11 is very well known & taken into account. But does not the new info in #11 strike at the true heart of the whole matter and put it into another light???

Regardless of what you wish to believe, the official President's Commission on Campus Unrest concluded that "the indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable."

You seem to imply the exact opposite of the President's Commission conclusion based on your citing points #1-10.

If so, this is very dangerous thinking. It would indicate that you're OK with gov't assassins, which would be highly unpatriotic & treasonous.

Again, "unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable."

See any parallels?

At 11/13/2011 07:02:00 PM, Blogger slimpicker said...

@Thrasher - You're welcome for the research.

While I agree with some of what the Scranton Commission concluded, I think Nixon ordered the report as more of a political maneuver than a fact-finding mission.

The conclusion that you quoted seems like an attempt to appease the public, yet at the same time it doesn't place fault on any party.

Yes, I think the shootings were "indiscriminate." But were they "unnecessary"? That is a question that can be answered multiple ways. Perhaps they were generally unnecessary, as if to say the whole situation, including the students becoming violent, did not have to happen.

However, if what some of the guardsmen testified to is true, then I would have to conclude that the shootings were necessary for the guardsmen to defend themselves.

Personally, I think the shots were fired out of confusion, and perhaps only one guardsmen felt threatened and shot, which triggered the others to shoot. On the other hand, I believe it's equally likely that Terry Norman did fire the first shots.

I don't know how my previous post implies the exact opposite of the Scranton report. If so, then Kent State University also implies the exact opposite since all I did was repeat what they said.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying I'm "OK with gov't assassins, which would be highly unpatriotic & treasonous." Do you mean assassinating the government or the government assassinating others?

I am ok with governments assasinating people such as Osama bin Laden. Apparently, so is our President. So, I don't think it makes me unpatriotic.

I'm also ok with the people assassinating the government, since that is what our founding fathers did to the English government.


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Neil Young's Moon Songs
Tell Us The F'n TRUTH
(we can handle it... try us)

Does Anything Else Really Matter?

"Nobody's free until everybody's free."
~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Here Comes "The Big Shift"

Maybe everything you think you know is wrong? NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
"It's all illusion anyway."

Propaganda = Mind Control
Guess what?
"Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
... and symbolism will be their downfall...

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists

"Children of Destiny" - THE Part of THE Solution

(Frame from Official Music Video)

war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


Show Me A Sign

"Who is John Galt?"
To ask the question is to know the answer

"Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
deserves neither liberty nor safety."

~~ Benjamin Franklin


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat