Alec Presley, Kent State Post 7

Since my last blog post, most of my research has been spent trying to follow up what I talked about there. Now as anyone who read the comment I left on that last blog post would know, there was trouble with my email, so nothing actually got sent. Obviously I have since resent those emails.

The wounded former student that I emailed, Alan Canfora, was very understanding of the mishap. I sent him several questions, but he told me he only did interviews over the phone or via Skype. He also mentioned something about including other students, which gave me the idea to ask my group mates Cynthia and Kelly. The three of us did the interview via phone on Sunday.

The conversation lasted a little under a half-hour. We all took turns asking our questions, and Mr. Canfora gave each one an insightful answer.

One of the things I wanted to know was why he decided to stay at Kent State, and if that was something a lot of the survivors did. I didn’t get a super clear answer to the first part, but he did tell me that a majority of the injured did stay at the university.

Because I’m doing my project on the reaction to the photo, I wanted to find out how survivors were treated. His answer was that for some people it was big deal that earned him some respect, but the vast majority of people treat him like a regular person.

The closest I got to actually asking about the picture was when I asked his opinion of the media coverage of the shooting. He said that for the most part he was okay with it, but he didn’t like that the news had to report the National Guard’s “three big lies,” that 1) the students shot first, 2) that the closet student was five feet away, and 3) that there wasn’t an order to fire.

Overall the interview went well. Cynthia and Kelly will probably describe the answers they got in their blog post. While I didn’t gain any new info on my photo specifically, the perspective of a student who lived through the attacks is invaluable for the project.

I am yet to reach the other person I tried to email, Marry Ann Vechio, the subject of the picture. However, I should be doing that within the next week or so.


Cindy H. – Kent State – Anti-government protests

In an article that I found from USA Today, students of Kent State 40 years after the shooting reflected on the incident that occurred. One student, Kassandra Meholick, drew a connection between the shooting in 1970 to anti-government movements during the Iraq war. She also noticed the difference between what had happened at her campus to opinions of the Iraq war. “There’s no strong opposition to it and no strong support for it,” she stated in the article.

It made me think more about why the students were gathered and protesting at Kent State. It wasn’t just that there was an unlikable war but Nixon had went back on his word while he was running for office. Instead of decreasing the war, it expanded. The same article included an overview of Mary Vecchio after the shooting. When the memorial was dedicated in 1990, Vecchio was quoted that the shooting “really destroyed my life”. In regards to the dedication, she said “Big deal. It has nothing to do with my life.” The photo followed her throughout her life and she was criticized heavily for being so young and on a college campus. The article ended with Vecchio stating the main thing she took away from the shooting. “I tell them it shows what can happen if the evildoers get too much power. They can take your freedom away. You could be walking to school, and what happened back then could happen to you.”

The people who protested against the war were protesting against the government’s decision. After 9/11, there have been many decisions made by the government that had led to protests. Although the Iraq war did lead to protests, the question of taxes and new policies implemented because of the loss of the World Trade Center and the hijacked airplanes continue to bring controversy.

Kelly Teel, Kent State, Post 6

The protests preceding the shootings at Kent State were sparked primarily by the U.S. decision to invade Cambodia. This invasion revived several of the antiwar movements throughout the nation, and led to remarkably negative response from the American public. Because of the importance of the reaction to this decision I decided to research the reasons behind the U.S. invasion of Cambodia.

Nixon issued an address to the nation on April 30, 1970 explaining his reasoning for sending troops into Cambodia. In it he claims that the North Vietnamese had been using Cambodia as a base for operations for years, and it was reaching the point in which the North Vietnamese presence in Cambodia was becoming a threat to the American troops. Therefore, the invasion was necessary in order to adequately protect the Americans. He also claimed that the North Vietnamese presence in Cambodia gave them a strategic advantage since they would be able to move men and supplies more easily. Nixon states that, if the North Vietnamese were to succeed in occupying Cambodia entirely, then “North Vietnamese men and supplies could then be poured into that country, jeopardizing not only the lives of our own men but the people of South Vietnam as well” (Nixon). Preventing North Vietnamese occupation in Cambodia therefore became a necessary facet of the war.

Nixon realized that this action was not going to be popular and admits that there was a lot of debate and disagreement among his advisors. In the speech he specifically acknowledges a Republican senator that remarked that the decision to invade Cambodia ensured that Nixon had “lost all chance of winning the November elections” (Nixon). However, Nixon maintains that he made this decision despite the political ramifications. He believed that invading Cambodia was essential in order to win the war and bring the American troops home. He said, “The action I have taken tonight is indispensable for the continuing success of that withdrawal program” (Nixon). Invading Cambodia would greatly hinder the North Vietnamese, and therefore strengthen America’s position and ability to win the war.

Nixon, Richard. “Address to the Nation on the Situation in Southeast Asia”. 30 April 1970.

Kelly Teel, Kent State, Post 5

One of the major inciting factors for protests against the war was the invasion of Cambodia on April 28, 1970. Tom Wells, in his book The War Within, describes the buildup to Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia, as well as the backlash. Before this, the antiwar movement had stayed mainly to the far left of the political spectrum and on college campuses. The general public viewed the demonstrators as unpatriotic dissidents. The Johnson and Nixon administrations relied upon this “silent majority” to support the war effort. However, by April of 1970, the silent majority was losing some of its clout. The white was receiving more and more letters protesting the war, and public opinion over American intervention in Vietnam became increasingly more negative (Wells 410). However, the invasion of Cambodia, which was seen as an unprovoked attack on a peaceful country, sparked outrage among several groups in America, including some people within the white house.

In March of 1970, Nixon began increasing the U.S. military presence in both Cambodia and Laos. On April 22, it was leaked that Nixon had authorized the provision of captured enemy rifles to the Cambodian government, and Nixon was furious. This incident resulted in Nixon ordering lie detector tests for several possible culprits and the firing of several others, including Assistant Secretary of State Marshall Green, who was apparently fired “at least two to three times during the course of his tenure” (Wells 416). Wells paints a picture of an increasingly unstable Nixon in the build up to the invasion. When planning the operation, Nixon left out most of the state and defense departments and ignored the opinions of his advisors. Three aides to the Secretary of State and some consultants resigned over the invasion (Wells 417).

College campuses did not receive the news of the invasion well. One of the white house advisors had warned Nixon that the “campuses would go up in flames” and he was not far off (Wells 417). Student protests sprang up everywhere, and other groups also began to complain about the war effort. Kent State was one of the most famous of these protests. The students there had originally met to protest the invasion into Cambodia peacefully before the violence and rioting broke out, which resulted in the National Guard being called out. Protests over the invasion, combined with outrage over the Kent State Shootings, led to an increasingly negative opinion of the war. It became so extreme that Nixon was forced to put a deadline on the invasion within Cambodia, and incited Congress to propose two amendments to decrease U.S. troops in Vietnam (Wells 426). The invasion and the shootings worked together to create a sense of unease over the war within the general population of the U.S.

Passing the Torch: Kent State Efforts Handed to Modern Activists – Helsep

I couldn’t really think of any connections to the Virginia Tech shooting that really stood out to me, aside from both being a tragic event that occurred on a college campus. Instead I started looking at any possible connections between the England Protest of 2003 and other anti-war protests toward the Iraq war and the Kent State Massacre. Although the anti-war protests of the Iraq war were not violent and led to such extreme measures as the Kent State Massacre portrayed, they were still major and of a global spectrum instead of just one nation.

The England Protest of 2003 was the largest demonstration ever held in the United Kingdom. In multiple cities of the United Kingdom, thousands of people had gathered in a share ideal. The UK Prime Minister did not recognize the protest even though it was clear what the majority of the people thought about his decisions. Prime Minister Blair’s reaction was that he did not “seek unpopularity as a badge of honour but sometimes it is the price of leadership and the cost of conviction” (BBC News). Similar reactions towards President Bush and United States’ involvement in Iraq is evident in large peace rallies. The same day of the England Protest, peace rallies and protests in America were implemented. An anti-war demonstration was practiced in New York City and had just an outstanding turnout as the one in the United Kingdom had received. The rally in America was more of a passing-of-the-torch sort of thing between the older generation of activists from the sixties to the new and youthful generation that was against Iraq. According to NBC News, “That depth of commitment beyond the fad of a peace rally is exactly what the older generation of activists is counting on to carry the movement forward”.

Alec Presley, Kent State Post 4

In my research, I have stumbled (most appropriate word I can use there) upon an opportunity to contact John Filo, the photographer who took my photo. I plan to email him after posting this. For this week, I am using a pair of print sources.

The first source is an article from Rolling Stone from June 1971. The article is about how certain parts of the media altered details of the events, and how many people viewed the protestors has the villains. The article goes over the facts of the tragedy as determined by the FBI, and how these facts were ignored – often purposefully.  There are also descriptions on the failings of the powers at be to prevent the murders. I got the article from a compilation book of articles, so I’m not sure what it looked like in its original format, but in the book they use the picture. They also mention Filo in the piece. They discuss how by this point in time he had won his Pulitzer Prize, and that people were congratulating him. There was also a funny line about how he had gotten an offer from a sweat-shirt company.

The other source is an article from Life magazine about Dean Kahler, a handicapped victim of the shooting. This source doesn’t use my photo or even mention it or Filo. However, it is further proof that the photo wasn’t as widely used prior to the Pulitzer. Combined with my source above, there is a clear pattern of my photo not being used – even when other photos taken by Filo are – before he won the award, and then the image becoming the go to image to use when talking about the Kent State.

Obviously pictures that not that many people have seen tend to not win many Pulitzer’s, so my photo should have been used somewhere. I’m going to keep looking for instances where it was used, and it’s going to be one of the things I ask Filo about if I am so lucky that he should answer me back.

Also, I didn’t know how to cite print sources. When I figure out how I will do so in the comments section.