"I saw their faces and I could feel their pain, and I took their pictures so that no one would ever forget what happened at Kent State and the trauma that it caused for our nation;" Howard Ruffner wrote those words after the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970. Four dead students and nine wounded, that was the aftermath of the Ohio national guard opening fire on a student protest rally at Kent State University.
Much has been written about those events but there is scant histiography regarding two of the most iconic photographs which were taken moments after those shots were fired. This paper seeks to add tot the existing historical record by examining the impact created by Howard Ruffner's and John Filo's photographs for college students in 1970 and how those images served to move them to protest in the days following the shooting.
This paper will examine primary sources (photographs, newspapers, protest flyers, interviews with witnesses) and secondary sources to build a consistent analysis of the photographs' impact amongst the nation's colleges during the May 4 immediate aftermath. By analyzing the events which led up to the shooting, the photographs themselves and the impact that they had, this paper will show how the widespread usage of the Kent State iconography became defining symbols of the anti-Vietnam movement.