Union Songs

The Kent State Massacre

A song by Jack Warshaw©Jack Warshaw 1970
Tune: The Death of Harry Sims by Aunt Molly Jackson

Bothers listen to my story, sisters listen to my song
I will sing of four brave people who now are dead and gone
Now two of them were 20 and two were just 19
Just stepping out to meet the world like so many we have seen

It was in Kent Ohio on a sunny afternoon
The air was full of springtime, the flowers were in bloom
Banners waved, but none could tell just as the march begun
There’d be blood all on the campus floor before the day was done

Ally Krause and Sandy Scheuer marched and sang a peaceful song
Like Bill Schroeder and Jeff Miller they did not think it wrong
Some laughed and joked with troopers and some to them did say
“We march to bring the GIs home and we are not afraid”

No warning were they given no mercy and no chance
The air was full of teargas the troopers did advance
Then suddenly they fired, the students turned and fled
Fifteen fell in that moment and four of them lay dead

They were murdered on the campus in the springtime of their lives
Their friends all wept in sorrow, their parents screamed and cried
They stood and fell in struggle, that was all that they could do
They gave their lives for Vietnam, also for me and you

Brothers, now my song is ending, but there’s one thing we must do
We must organise against this war and see the struggle through
Free people in their millions will know what we have done
And peace can never flower till we bring our soldiers home


Many thanks to Jack Warshaw for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection

The Kent State massacre occurred at Kent State University in Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.
Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30. Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.
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 the public opinion – at an already socially contentious time – over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings

See more of Jack Warshaw's work in this collection.

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