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Fighting for Justice Through Protest: Following Up on the War in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kent State University

by: Halla Maas

                                    In 1970, while fighting in Vietnam, the United States military invaded                                                              Cambodia in order to stop communism from spreading. This made many Hope                                              College students react because they believed that America’s army was unjustly                                              slaughtering innocent Vietnamese, Cambodian, and American people. Moreover,                                          there were four students who were killed and nine wounded at Kent State by                                                National Guardsmen because they were protesting to end the war in Vietnam. This                                      incident riled up the Hope students and it led to the desire to end the war and fight                                      for justice for the Kent State University students that were killed.

            By the late 1960s, many students at Hope College felt that they needed

to take action against the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. In The Anchor,

Tom Donia wrote an article in 1969 about the Academic Affairs Board

request to the President to cancel classes for a Vietnam Peace Moratorium,

where they would discuss ways of how to bring peace to the war.[1] However,

Dean Rider opposed this form of protest because he believed that the students

only wanted to get out of class. But Tim Liggett, the Student Congress

President, “pointed out that the peace moratorium began as a ‘student drive, but for maximum effect it must involve the entire campus.’”[2] Eventually, this led most of the campus campus promoting and fighting for peace together.

Later, on May 8, 1970, Donia wrote another article, “Hope Students

Strike to Protest War,”about the protests that occured on campus due to

 the recent invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State incident.[3] There

were four students who were killed and nine wounded by the national

guardsmen because they were protesting to end the war in Vietnam.

This lead the Nixon administration to fall apart because he allowed the

national guardsmen to open fire on these students.[4]  In Mitchel

Levitas journal article review on The Truth about Kent State by Peter

Davies, Levitas said that “the killing of four students at Kent State

University by Ohio national guardsmen was ‘murder.’”[5] Tom Donia, an Anchor reporter, interviewed James Stills, a Hope College student, who spoke out against the war and deaths of the four students in the Pine Grove: “For too long students have hidden in a shell in order to ‘do their own thing.’ He added, ‘If we are ever to do anything for our country, the time is now. What others have died to start we must live to see finished, and that is a change.”[6] Stills believed that the younger generation must end what has been started by protesting for peace and justice for the lives lost in Cambodia and at home in America.

                                                     The protests at Hope continued to circulate around promoting peace and                                                       justice to those who lost their lives in the war in Cambodia. In 1973, some                                                       Hope students decided to stampede the drafting center in Holland. The                                                           Anchor article, “Decry Killing: Hopeites Stage Protest” explained that                                                             students set up their protest in front of the army-navy recruiting center                                                           on West Eighth Street. While they were protesting to end the war, they                                                             succeeded in shutting down the recruitment center temporarily and                                                                 collected 250 signatures for their petition, which they plan to send to the secretary-general of the United Nations.[7] Their petition read, “We the undersigned believe that God our Father has given man life. He has asked man to prosper and grow, and above all to have faith in Him. What God has given life, let no man destroy. Let neither the leaders of North Vietnam, the U.S., Thailand, South Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, the People's Republic of China, the U.S.S.R., New Zealand, or any other nation or person usurp the power of God.”[8] These students believed that the war in Cambodia was killing God’s creation of man. Because of this, these students protested to end the war in order to save human life.

            These protests caused Hope College students to become more aware

that they needed to band together in order to create a strong front to end the

war. An article in The Anchor stated that several demands were made on

Monday, April 17, 1972, “which included a halt to the bombing of North and

South Vietnam; the withdrawal of all American air, naval, and ground forces

from Vietnam.”[9] President Nixon is already planning on removing troops

from Vietnam due to the increase of protests that were happening in America.

The Anchor came out with another article, 441 Colleges Affected: Strikes Shut

Down 250 Schools. This article discussed the numerous protests that have

occurred on campuses in America over the Vietnam and Cambodia war.[10]

Nixon realized that in order to bring peace to the war at home, he needed to bring his troops home.

            Both the Vietnam and Cambodia wars caused dissent in the United states. Hope College students rallied for peace in any way possible. They and other

 

[1] Tom Donia, “Recommend No Classes: Boards Act On Moratorium,” The Anchor, Oct. 3, 1969, p. 1.

[2] Donia, “Recommend No Classes,” 1969.

[3] Tom Donia, “Hope Students Strike to Protest War,” The Anchor, May 8, 1970.

[4] Jerry M. Lewis and Thomas R. Hensley, “The May 4 Shootings at Kent State University: The Search for Historical Accuracy,” The Ohio Council for the Social Studies Review 34, no. 1 (Summer, 1998): p. 9-21.  

[5] Mitchel Levitas, review of The Truth about Kent State by Peter Davies, Change 5 No. 8, Oct. 1973: 59-60.

[6] Donia, “Hope Students Strike to Protest War,” 1970.

[7] Editorial, “Decry Killing: Hopeites Stage Protest,” The Anchor, April 24, 1972.

[8] “Decry Killing,” 1972.

[9] “Decry Killing,” 1972.

[10] Editorial, “441 Colleges Affected: Strikes Shut Down 250 Schools,” The Anchor, May 15, 1970.