Kent State 45 years later

When Alabama defeated Missouri for the SEC football championship last December, it brought together two former college teammates, two former University of Toledo football coaches, and two men whose lives were forever changed on May 4, 1970. 

Today is the 45th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State University. The Ohio National Guard was called by Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes to quell a protest against the Vietnam War. 

Eventually, shots were fired, and four students were killed. Two, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause, were active protesters. The others, William Schroeder and Sandy Scheurer, were not. Scheurer, in fact, was walking across across campus with her students from a speech therapy class. 

Elsewhere on campus, two freshmen who would go on to spectacular success decades later were going about their business. 

Gary Pinkel and Nick Saban were wrapping up their first year as college students, ready for finals and summer football workouts. Pinkel was in his backyard, hailing from Akron. Saban wasn’t too far away, hailing from Fairmont, West Virginia, a coal mining northeast of Charleston. Saban was especially anxious to return to Fairmont to see his longtime girlfriend, Terry Constable, who was a student at Fairmont State College. 

Saban was affected deeply by the tragedy. He has discussed it not only with the media, but on panels at Kent State with the families of the victims and other students, faculty and community members. 

The coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide should be affected. He had an English class with Allison Krause, a PIttsburgh native. 

Ironically, Pittsburgh is the place where a future teammate of Saban and Pinkel, a skinny linebacker named Jack Lambert, would shoot to NFL stardom. Followins an All-Mid-America Conference career at Kent State, Lambert went to the Steelers and started at middle linebacker for four Super Bowl championship teams. 

I have read and watched coutnless pieces on Kent State. Both sides bear some blame. The National Guard should have exhausted all means of diplomacy before turning to shooting, but the protesters put themselves in harm’s way by continuing the protest on a school day, disrupting the normal flow of campus. Had the protestors simply dispersed Sunday night, this never happens. 

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on May 4, 2015, in History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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