Four Dead In Ohio

Lyrics by Patricia J. Griffin & Robert Plant
Performed by Neil Young
Tin soldiers and Nixon coming
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tension was palpable on the campus of the
University of Missouri in the spring of 1970.

With Nixon’s decision on April 30th to invade
Cambodia, protests against the Vietnam War
accelerated nationwide.

The Kent State Massacre on May 4, 1970, in
which unarmed college students were fired
upon by the Ohio National Guard, killed four
students and wounded nine others.

Outrage reached a feverish pitch, in turn
sparking a nationwide student strike.

In an unprecedented move, the University of
Missouri cancelled final exams, sending
students home early and putting a lid on the
situation before heretofore peaceful demon-
strations could turn violent.

Graduation ceremonies, scheduled to be held in
the football stadium, were relocated due to rain.

Rather than sit in an auditorium and view the
ceremonies via closed-circuit TV, which seemed
anticlimactic, I returned my unused cap and gown
to the book store and headed on down the road
to begin the next chapter of my life.

4 Dead In O-HI-O



On Monday, May 1, 2017, a total of 650 Vietnam
veterans from Nebraska boarded four jets as part
of an Honor Flight to Washington DC to tour the
nation’s war memorials and monuments.

Upon their return to the Lincoln airport that same
evening, they were greeted by thousands of waving
flags and wall to wall cheers.

This is in stark contrast to forty plus years ago, when
the majority of returning Vietnam veterans received
no welcome at all or jeers.

It’s about time.

18 thoughts on “Four Dead In Ohio

  1. A poignant remembrance, Sandy. I’m so glad you were able to connect with those who suffered through that crazy, stupid, useless war by doing their duty to the country. It wasn’t their fault that it was such an ill-fated, mistaken endeavor. I lost a cousin who served in Vietnam as a medic. His family has never gotten over it. His twin brother still carries the emotional scars and suffers. It must have been so healing for those veterans to return from what had to be a deeply emotional and painful visit and be welcomed with open arms and cheers.

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  2. Thank you. thank you, thank you! I remember the day the four went down. I recently met someone in Florida who had been there when it happened. that song often drifts through my head. I’m glad that the veterans got a tribute and some recognition. I hope we will not forget that war. When I went to Vietnam five years ago I had to smile when they referred to it as “the American War”.

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  3. Thanks for this Sandy. It is good to remember and try to place what happened in context. Btw Neil Young wrote the powerful song that you quote. Patty Griffin wrote another song, co-written with Robert Plant, also called ‘Ohio’.

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