WEB EXCLUSIVE: Remembering the life of a victim

Justin Stine

Jeffrey Glenn Miller, an active student protester during the early days of May 1970, was approximately 275 feet away from the Ohio National Guard when he was killed. Jeffrey, a 20-year-old sophomore at the time of the tragedy, was shot in the head.

Jeff grew up in Long Island, New York, near the Bronx. He had a brother, Russ, who was three years older. His parents were divorced. His father was a linotype operator for The New York Times, and his mother was a secretary at John F. Kennedy High School.

As a child, Jeff was very interested in sports but often opted not to play because of his relatively small size and stature. Many times, he was the referee when he played with his neighborhood friends. He also loved to collect baseball cards.

He graduated high school in 1968 with a B average. At the time of graduation, his guidance counselor said Jeff was very excited about going to college.

Upon graduation, Jeff attended Michigan State University with the intent to major in architecture. During his freshman year, he joined the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, the same fraternity to which his brother had belonged when he attended Michigan State.

His interest in fraternity life quickly declined, and he eventually quit.

Many other things in Jeff’s life began to change around the same time. Shortly after quitting the fraternity, he changed his major to psychology. He became increasingly more interested in war and peace. He felt that the war was immoral, and it was silly for men to die over something so meaningless. After the tragedy on May 4, as his roommates were cleaning out his belongings from their apartment, they found a Selective Service System form through which Jeff was applying for status of conscientious objector to the war.

Jeff loved listening to his rock albums. His roommates said he would spend hours sitting on the floor with headphones on listening to bands such as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. He also loved to play his drums along to his favorite albums.

During the summer of 1969, Jeff returned home to New York and attended the infamous Woodstock festival in Bethel. He called himself a “citizen of the Woodstock Nation.”

Jeff transferred to Kent State in January of 1970. He lived in a small, off-campus apartment in Kent with a few roommates. He quickly became interested in non-violent, anti-war demonstrations on campus.

Jeff was not a participant during the noon-time rally on May 1 or during the demonstrations in downtown Kent that night. On the night of May 1, a friend came over to his apartment after the demonstrations and told him all about it. He told his friend to let him know if anything else happened — he wanted to be a part of it.

Jeff did participate in the events on May 2 through May 4. On the morning of May 4, Jeff called his mother at home in New York. He told her about the demonstrations he had participated in and that he intended on taking part in another at noon.

“You either believe in some things or you don’t,” Jeff told his mother on that fateful morning.

She begged him to be careful. He then proceeded to wake his roommates and persuade them to attend the rally with him.

On that day, Jeff was wearing an outfit that was pretty typical of his normal dress — a red cowboy shirt, boots and an old pair of blue-jean bell bottoms. He always wore a headband to hold back his long, black hair.

He was shot in the mouth, and the bullet eventually shattered the base of his skull and split his spinal cord.

Justin Stine is an electronic media productions major, the treasurer of the May 4 Task Force and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].