Kent State, 40 Years Ago

Ken AshfordHistoryLeave a Comment

The following is a re-post from a post I posted last year, which focussed on Mary Ann Vecchio, the girl in the iconic photo below.  For other things Kent State-related, you might want to view this interview with Devo (yes, the two founding members of Devo were present at the shootings), or better still, a recent editorial by Elaine Holstein, mother of Jeffrey Miller (the victim in the photo below), entitled "What I Lost At Kent State".

39 40 years ago today, the Ohio National Guard shot at protesting students at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine.

It was in that immediate aftermath when Akron Beacon Journal photographer James Filo snapped this (in)famous Pulitzer Prize-winning photo:


200px-Vecchioandfilo The anguished young woman is Mary Ann Vecchio, who was (at the time) a 14 year old runaway.  She is shown kneeling over the body of Kent State student Jeffrey Miller, who was fatally shot moments earlier.  Vecchio did not know Miller, although she had befriended two of the other students who were hit by gunfire that day: Sandra Scheuer, who was killed; and Alan Canfora, who was wounded.

Back in 1995, Vecchio spoke at a press conference about the impact of that day on her life:

"I couldn't believe that people would kill people over what they thought, just because he demonstrated against the Vietnam War — that they would shoot you over it. I couldn't believe… There was nothing I could do for Jeffrey or any of the other students. And that's part of history and that'll remain with me for the rest of my life."

Today at Kent State, at the 39th Commemorative Ceremony, Vecchio and Filo reunited for the first time at that spot.  (They had met once earllier in 1995, at a colloquiem at Emerson University, but never at Kent State).

Filo, who was a photojournalism major in 1970, is now photography director for CBS in New York. Vecchio is a respiratory therapist in Florida.