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This country has Ohio OHIO This country has had many riots throughout its history. The mid-sixties till the early seventies were a popular time for these riots. Many people were experimenting with drugs and the overall environment was such a way that will never be felt again. From all these riots, one in particular at Kent State left four people dead.
This event was so influential that Neil Young (At this time a part of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) wrote a song called Ohio. Before someone can start explaining the significance of the song to the event, one should describe the situation itself. On April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced the U. S. invasion of Cambodia. Americans learned on national television that 150, 000 soldiers would be drafted for the war this from a president elected on his promises to stop the Vietnam conflict (Humanist 3).
Just a day later, demonstrations broke out on college campuses across the nation. In the Midwest, word spread around Kent State University about a rally to be held at noon Monday, May 4, on the Commons (Humanist 4). After a weekend of mob chanting and destruction in downtown Kent, Ohio, Mayor Leroy Satrom asks that the Ohio National Guard be called in to maintain order. The group of marshals was formed by the administration in 1968 in response to other student protests. Their purpose was to be a voice of reason, talking students down from heights of anger (Humanist 4).
This voice of reason marched toward the crowd. Each guardsman carried a loaded M- 1 rifle. Twenty-five men fired 55 shots from rifles, two fired shots from. 45 caliber pistols, and one fired a single blast from a shotgun (Amsterdam 12). Despite their lack of training and organization, the marshals did everything in their power to prevent violence. Before noon, students gathered on the Commons for the anti-war rally which had been planned since Friday. A campus policeman riding in a Guard vehicle told students through a bullhorn that their assembly was illegal, that everyone was ordered to disperse.
The protesters were stoning the guards and people were putting all kinds of stuff on fire, especially the ROTC that they still dont know who did it. The question of whether their actions are right does not have a right or wrong answer. One other view of why this event happened is stated: Most people will tell you that May 4 happened because students were protesting the Vietnam War. But Jerry Lewis sees it differently. As a witness to the demonstrations and shootings, he maintains that the real source of protest was the presence of the National Guard. The chanters were saying, Pigs off campus, Green pigs, green pigs, Lewis says.
It wasnt 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, we dont want your censored ing war, or Ho Chi Minh is going to win, or anything like that. It was clearly anti-Guard. And the guardsmen knew that. They said there was great hostility. (Times 8) The added factor in May of 1970 is that there was an election going on, and the governor was running to be nominated to Senate (Amsterdam 13). So he wanted to give a good impression of toughness. The idea of politics played a role in this because if this situation happened today it would have been dealt with in a different manner.
If a similar incident were to occur, the National Guard probably wouldnt be called to campus because opinions in the United States have changed so drastically. If it came to the point where students wanted to take over a building now, we would probably let them and sit around outside and wait for them to get done. This protest did have an affect on peoples lives as they were looked down upon for taking part in this riot. Some people lost their jobs or even their parents lost their jobs just because they were involved or had a son / daughter who was involved (Times 8).
Another thing is that even the parents of the kids for the most part did not back their kids. They thought what they did was wrong and they let their kids know about it. Basically most parents fought for their country at one time or another, so why couldnt their children do the same? Lets take the time now to look at the lyrics of the song Ohio and how they pertain to the event.
One thing about the song is that it is not very complicated. Basically there are only two verses to the song that are repeated over and over again for a long time. The reason the song might be so long is the simple fact that the more you repeat something, the more likely the lyrics will be remembered. A reason that the song was written with simple lyrics was maybe so that this song could be sang at other protests so as to not have this incident happen again.
The first line of the song, Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, means that the national guards were seen as just an extension of the army. So the tin soldiers can be seen as the national guards. The reference to Nixon is that he wanted people to go to Vietnam to fight. Were finally on our own, means that since their own country is fighting against them, they now have to rely on each other. This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio.
The drumming refers to the casualties that were suffered during this protest and the last line to the verse is easily understandable. The first half of the second verse means its time to do something because the guards are taking physical action against them. The next line, Should have been done long ago, leaves me a bit confused. The way I interpret this is that the whole idea of protesting should have started sooner then it did.
Maybe if they made their voice heard earlier then Nixon wouldnt have ordered troops to Vietnam. The second half of the second verse means that if you were at this event and saw the people getting shot, you may have run away from the event, but this incident will forever stay in your mind. Did this song make a difference? This song did make a difference as it made people aware of the riots that were going on across the country.
It showed protestors that physical actions may be taken by the National Guard if they go too far. Any time after this event the reader may think that a guard would be less willing to take physical action because four people were killed. This was not the case because most of the older generations agreed with these guards dealing with the situation the way they did. As this song may have created more protestors, it did not affect the actions taken against them. The thing is the song couldnt really make a difference because the event happened and it was over, the only thing it could do was make people aware of what happened.
The song doesnt promote violence; it just disagrees with the way the situation was handled by the National Guard. Ohio is a meaningful song that is still talked about today. Kent State still mourns the death of 4 people every May 4 th. Neil Young wrote a simple song that made people aware of these riots. Sometimes the best way to get your point across is to do it in a song. Although riots will always be relevant in society, this song may have changed the way in which the riot was to be handled 512 Szatmary, David P.
A Time to Rock: A Social History of Rock and Roll. New York Simon and Schuster MacMillan Carter, Richard. Violence at Kent State. New York Amsterdam News. 5 / 2000, Volume 91, pp. 12 - 16. Cline's, Francis X.
Students From Then and Now Pass on Painful Lessons. NY Times. 4 / 28 / 2000, Volume 149, pp. 8 - 9. Lojowsky, Mac. Student Movements at Kent State University. Humanist July 2000, Volume 60, pp. 2 - 9.
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