Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Shootings, the May 4th, 1970 tragedy where the Ohio National Guard opened fire on college students who were protesting the American invasion of Cambodia as part of Nixon's Vietnam War campaign. The massacre left four students dead, nine other wounded and would go on to spark protests at college campuses nationwide, forcing many to close temporarily. Many artists responded angrily, most notably Neil Young with his 1970 protest song "Ohio."
Rolling Stone was on the front lines reporting on the Kent State massacre and its subsequent fallout. Revisit our coverage in the Rolling Stone Plus Digital Archives, which includes writer John Lombardi's account of the tragedy. As he reported for the June 11, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone : "For a moment it was silent and the Guards reached the top of the hill, near the Wishing Well. Quickly, they turned, it looked like a maneuver to [one eyewitness], and four of them dropped in line, others were kneeling and some were standing, like a Revolutionary War tableaux. They were pointing their rifles up in the air, down at the ground, and some straight ahead. People were yelling, 'It's only blanks!' but then an explosion seemed to crack the rifle barrels, the sound lasting a long time, 35 rounds going off at once, and bodies were falling all around."