He was there at Kent State on May 4, 1970
To the editor:
Earlier, I read in the Salem News that a film about the May 1970 events at the Kent State Campus in Kent would be shown at the Salem KSU Campus.
It is now 50 years since that time. I’m writing this to make sure, that for the first time, the truth will be told which probably wasn’t the case of the film.
It all started a couple of days earlier when the United States Army in Vietnam announced it was going into neighboring Cambodia to stop the flow of Communist troops and arms going into Vietnam. The purpose was to kill United States troops.
On the Kent Campus, a bunch of radical students interpreted this as a U.S. attempt to widen the war. No! It was a movement to stop the Communist flow of men and arms into Vietnam to kill American soldiers. The radical, uninformed punks began their protest (they said) of the U.S. widening of the war. This was totally untrue. The U.S. movement was to stop the flow of Communist troops and arms.
On the campus, these radical and wrong punks began to burn down the R.O.T.C. building. When the Kent firemen arrives to put out the fire, the punks greeted them by throwing rocks, bricks, anything else to stop the firemen from putting out the fire. The firefighters were overwhelmed and couldn’t do their job and left with their trucks and equipment. The R.O.T.C. building burned to the ground. These punks then left the campus and went to downtown Kent and caused a great deal of damage, breaking storefront windows and doing other damages.
Governor Rhodes sent in the National Guard to protect the campus and people. On May 4, 1970, the idiot punks started to run at the troops, throwing anything they could get their hands on at the troops who lined up on the Commons. To protect themselves, the troops opened fire. Unfortunately, none of the agitators were hit but nine innocent students were wounded and four students were killed.
Of course, the agitators blamed the governor. The president of the university said, “no one was responsible for what happened,” during the whole time since it started with the burning of the ROTC building and all of the damage to the city. Unbelievable! Everything was the fault of those radical, misinformed punks! There was never any punishment doled out to those who started it. In fact, they were rewarded by given an office on campus! I’m sure plenty of lies were told, blaming everyone but themselves.
I saw the whole ting from Bowman Hall overlooking the Commons because I was teaching a class there. Word came over the loudspeaker for everyone to stay in the building. I stopped my class and told the students to stay in the building. A few says prior, I went to the Ravenna Hospital to get my wife and first born child, our daughter. We made it right before campus was closed off.
In the meantime, many, many parents had come to campus to get their children living the dormitories. By the way, I ran out the back door to get home to my wife and new baby.
Shortly after was commencement and I received my doctorate (Ph.D.) diploma. In the midst of all the chaos, I was given my final oral exam in a building far away from the Commons. My parents and my wife’s parents were there from the Cleveland area for the commencement. Shortly thereafter, my family and I moved to Salem where I began my first professorship at the brand new Salem KSU campus.
To sum up, no one was ever punished but it remains that everything that happened was the fault of those punks who made all the damage and were wrong by saying we were expanding the war. To repeat, our troops were sent into Cambodia to stop the Communist aggression, not to expand the war. I’m certainly not going to see the film and hear all the lies. Only those radical students are to blame for everything that happened. Not Governor Rhodes or anyone else. Those punks talk and act like they are the victims. So, after 50 years some one has told the truth.
Dr. Michael Traina,
Retired KSU Professor of Business.
Proud U.S. Army Medic veteran,