Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Memories of Kent State Will Not Rest in Peace

DEAR ABBY: I must take exception to your response to Karen A. Tamura of Cerritos, Calif., concerning the Vietnam War.

You said that National Guard units fired into a group of peaceful demonstrators at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine.

Mobs are seldom "peaceful." These "students" confronting the National Guard at Kent State that day in 1970 constituted a mob. Their zeal for a cause led them astray. Four had to die before reason regained the upper hand. They were armed with bricks, rocks and clubs, and were scarcely in a mood to exercise discretion. It is ever so easy, after the fact, to declare what was should not have been. -- ALLAN E. BOVEY, SPRINGFIELD, MASS.

DEAR ALLAN: Read on:

DEAR ABBY: For years I have fumed as I read the sob stories about the "peaceful anti-war demonstrators" at Kent State. I know Vietnam wasn't a popular war -- I hated it, too. It is too bad these demonstrators were killed -- but peaceful? NO!

1. These "peaceful" demonstrators burned the ROTC building.

2. These "peaceful" demonstrators had been ordered to leave, but refused.

3. These National Guardsmen were about the same age as the "peaceful" demonstrators. They were there obeying orders. Wouldn't you feel your life was threatened if you were a member of a small group facing a large crowd who was pelting you with stones and other missiles? Small wonder someone panicked and fired.

Everyone has heard about the "peaceful" demonstrators who were injured or killed, but the public has never heard about the guardsman who phoned his young wife and cried as he told her what he had seen, and who today, at age 48, still has problems as a result of what happened that day, and the subsequent questioning and harassment these innocent young men were subjected to because of the Kent State riots!

No, I wasn't there -- but my 22-year-old brother was an Ohio National Guardsman protecting his country, his state and the taxpayers' lives and property. -- HAD IT WITH KENT STATE IN OHIO

DEAR ABBY: Perhaps being attacked with bricks, bottles, etc., is a peaceful demonstration to you, but those 18-year-old guardsmen were scared into retaliation. Where, oh where, has the truth gone? -- PHYLLIS GOLLESLIN, MELBOURNE, FLA.

DEAR ABBY: The governor of Ohio did not send for the state National Guard because of "peaceful anti-war demonstrators" at Kent State in May 1970. Mobs of raging students were roaming the campus -- pillaging and burning everything in sight (including whole buildings). Local authorities were terrified and helpless. Blame the issuance of live ammunition to a group of frightened soldiers, completely inexperienced in mob control, who were being shouted at, spit on, or hit by bricks and rocks. These guardsmen were no older than the students.

Abby, please read current accounts (unbiased) before wrongfully reporting this terrible tragedy. -- DAVID PAIGE, PUYALLUP, WASH.

DEAR DAVID AND DEAR READERS: My source for the explanation of the Vietnam War and reference to Kent State came from the World Book Encyclopedia. I felt that this was an unbiased account, and it was in no way intended to mislead or inflame. Referring to it as a "peaceful" demonstration was my mistake. I now know the truth.

Most teen-agers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS, and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's new, updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600