…this summer I hear the drumming…

May 4th 1970. 43 years ago.Kent State University, Ohio.



Jeffrey Glenn Miller (March 28 1950-May 4 1970)


Allison Krause (April 4 1951- May 4 1970)


Sandra Lee Scheuer (August 11 1949-May 4 1970)


William Knox Schroeder (July 20 1950-May 4 1970)

Many of us know the words to the Neil Young song, immortalising the tragic events of May 4 1970. Four young students, killed in their prime. At least two of them apparently on their way to class and not actively involved in the antiwar protests taking place on campus.


43 years ago.

I was not yet 13 when it happened, but I still remember seeing the photographs in LIFE magazine a week later. Yes, in Calcutta. There was life before the internet. We had things called newspapers and magazines. They made it across prodigious distances at remarkable speeds.

I was nearly 16 when I first heard the song. And I remember it affected me, particularly because I could remember the incident but couldn’t recall even one of the names of the students whose lives had been lost. I felt grieved and aggrieved.

I’ve learnt a lot more about the incident since, and about the song as well. About how people were affected by both.

So take a minute today and dedicate that time to the memory of Jeff Miller, Allison Krause, Sandy Scheuer and William Schroeder. May their souls rest in peace.

And when you do, think about what they faced that summer.

And then think about what the youth of today face this summer.

The youth of today. Our children.

….this summer I hear the drumming….

What do our children hear? Who are their Nixons, their National Guards, their Kent State Universities?

….this summer I hear the drumming….

Coda: Reader David Eastman points out that some readers may not know anything about the event I refer to. So here’s a link to what happened, and also as seen through the eyes of a Guardian columnist forty years later.

5 thoughts on “…this summer I hear the drumming…”

  1. I was just graduating from a rural high school in Alabama and just celebrated my 18th birthday on May 3, 1970. Having graduated in a class of thirteen as Valedictorian, I was scheduled for a swearing in ceremony at our local Naval recruiting office. When I heard about the Kent State tragedy on NBC news I called the Naval recruiter and told him I was not going to join because any country that shoots its own citizens for protesting doesn’t deserve volunteers in its military.

    I did something instead that no one in my family ever really understood. I went to college and stayed there for a long while eventually earning a PhD.

  2. Wow. So your life literally changed as a result of what happened at Kent State. Those four lives meant something to you. I guess you still think about it every birthday….

  3. I remember the song Hey Sandy at the time. I was just reflecting how as a teenager, I’d joined the Vietman protest in London’s Grosvenor Square. A man next to me was trying to light a cigarette but the crush left him unable to move his arms A policeman leaned over with his Ronson lighter and rendered assistance. Very civilised, I thought.

    In 1970 it was an event in Laos which would trigger a chain of events which would pull me in many years later.


Let me know what you think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.