mary ann vecchio

USA. Ohio. Kent. May 4, 1970. Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14 year-old student, kneels beside Jeffrey Milley who’d been shot by the National Guard. Though the photo that first circulated turned out to be manipulated, this is the original, un-doctored version. This picture won the Pulitzer Prize.

The Kent State shootings occurred at Kent State University and involved the shooting of college students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. National Guardsmen fired into a group of unarmed students, killing four and wounded another nine—some marching against the Vietnam War and American invasion of Cambodia, some walking by or observing the protest from a distance. 

Guardsmen had on the previous day used tear gas to disperse protesters and, by May 4th, rallies were banned and classes resumed. But 2,000 people gathered in what quickly turned into confrontation. Tear gas and bayonets were met with rocks and verbal taunts, which were met with more than 60 rounds of gunfire. In 1974, all charges were dropped against eight of the Guardsmen involved. There were 28 guards who admitted to firing on top of the hill, 25 of these guards fired 55 rounds into the air and into the ground, 2 of the guards fired .45cal pistol shots, 2 into the crowd, and 3 into the air, one guard fired birdshot into the air. The guardsmen fired 61 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected public opinion—at an already socially contentious time—over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.

Photograph: John Filo/Getty

John Filo     Mary Ann Vecchio Screaming Over the Body of Murdered Kent State University Student Jeffrey Miller, Kent, Ohio     May 4, 1970


47 years ago today, the National Guard opened fire on students at Kent State University who were protesting the war in Vietnam.  The Kent State Massacre took the lives of 4 students: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder.  Ultimately, 24 students and 1 faculty member were charged with assorted “crimes” in relationship to the demonstration and murders.  Eight of the Guardsmen, the actual perpetrators of the crime, were indicted by a grand jury, but a judge, no surprise here, dismissed all charges.

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On May 4th, 1970 a little bit past noon the Ohio National Guard opened live fire on unarmed students at Kent State University. 67 rounds were fired in 13 seconds and at the end of it 4 students lay dead while 9 more were wounded. John Filo who was a photojournalism student at Kent University wound up taking one of the most iconic photographs of a generation, that of 14 year old runaway Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the lifeless body of Jeffery Miller. Vecchio had earlier befriended Alan Canfora(wounded) and Sandra Scheuer(killed) who were also caught up in the gunfire, in Scheuer’s case she had not even been taking part in the protests against the Cambodian campaign.

Following the the fatal shootings hundreds of universities and high schools around the country shut down as hundreds of thousands of students and teachers walked out in protest. Most protests while usually tense did remain generally peaceful, however there were numerous ones that turned violent, in fact just over a week later on May 15th state troopers in Mississippi opened fire and killed two at Jackson State College. In New York City on May 8th in what became known as the Hard Hat Riot almost 200 construction workers mobilized by the AFL-CIO attacked a group of about 1,000 students who had gathered to protest the shootings resulting in over 70 injuries(politics makes strange bed fellows. In this case you have a labor union organizing a mob against anti-war leftists while bankers and lawyers on nearby Wall St actually tried to shelter some of the students from the mob as the police were doing nothing and in some instances wound up being attacked themselves). A few days after the shooting more than 100,000 in Washington D.C and 150,000 in San Fransisco gathered to protest against the Vietnam war.

Powerful Photos

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Two childhood friends unexpectedly reunite on opposite sides of a demonstration in 1972.

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“La Jeune Fille a la Fleur,” a photograph by Marc Riboud, shows the young pacifist Jane Rose Kasmir planting a flower on the bayonets of guards at the Pentagon during a protest against the Vietnam War on October 21, 1967. The photograph would eventually become the symbol of the flower power movement.

The world’s first computer.

John Filo’s iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a fourteen-year-old runaway, kneeling in anguish over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard.

Pele and British captain Bobby Moore trade jerseys in 1970 as a sign of mutual respect during a World Cup that had been marred by racism.

A German World War II prisoner, released by the Soviet Union, is reunited with his daughter. The child had not seen her father since she was one year old.

Child playing violin at his teacher’s funeral.

Tearing down of the Berlin Wall.