Epilogue to “Ohio.”

Neil Young wrote the lyrics to the protest song “Ohio” after seeing pictures of the May 4th shootings in Life Magazine. The song was recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young 17 days after the tragedy and released on the Atlantic label the next month—a matter of weeks after the shootings.  In December of 2004 Rolling Stone Magazine rated it number 385 on the list of the  ”Greatest Songs of All Time.”

After the song’s release it was banned from air-play on many AM stations (which was the preeminent venue for popular music at the time) but was played extensively on then illegal underground FM stations in larger cities and college towns. David Crosby once stated Neil Young’s actually naming (in the song lyrics) Richard Nixon as responsible for the killings, “The bravest thing I’ve ever heard.”

A presidential commission on campus unrest later described the summer of 1970 as “a time of the deepest U.S. social divisions since the Civil War.”

On May 14th, 14 more students were shot by police—two of them fatally—on the campus of Jackson State University in Mississippi. It is sad and ironic to say not much is remembered about that incident–Jackson State is a predominantly black school.

On May 2nd 2010 on NPR’s Weekend Edition host Liane Hansen commented: “Four decades ago [this week] protests on college campuses focused on the Vietnam War and some turned deadly. Americans were shocked when Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on students at Kent State University. It happened 40 years ago this week and it came to be called ‘The Day the War Came Home.’”

You may remember, I mentioned in the story many of the student protesters were,

“carrying home-made signs, demanding the U.S. get out of Cambodia and Viet-Nam, ‘Bring home the troops,’ ‘Bring home the war.’”

Sadly it brings to mind the old cliché’—“Be careful what you wish for.”

While a federal investigation at that time called the Kent State  shootings,“…unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable,” to my knowledge none of the shooters was ever convicted of a crime.

Here’s a video–the original Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recording of “Ohio,” –if you should want to listen to it:

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