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Day of Concern (May 8, 1970)

In late spring and early summer of 1970, armed forces of the United States and South Vietnam conducted a series of military operations into eastern Cambodian during the Vietnam War. The objective of the campaign was the defeat of a large force of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, and more importantly their base camps and sanctuaries, which had been protected by Cambodian "neutrality" since their establishment in 1966. Fallout from the incursion was quick in coming on the campuses of America's universities, as protests erupted against what was perceived as an expansion of the conflict into yet another country. On May 4th, the unrest escalated to violence when Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four students during demonstrations at Kent State University. Two days later, at the University of Buffalo, police wounded four more demonstrators. On May 8th, 100,000 protesters gathered in Washington and another 150,000 in San Francisco on only ten days notice. Nationwide, 30 ROTC buildings went up in flames or were bombed while 26 schools witnessed violent clashes between students and police. National Guard units were mobilized on 21 campuses in 16 states.

Centre College students also called for some kind of response to the situation. To help defuse the tension, and to address the concerns, anxieties, and anger felt by many Centre students, President Thomas Spragens declared a Day of Concern for May 8, 1970. Classes were to be suspended, and the day taken up by various discussions and lectures. The day was concluded by a quiet candlelight memorial service. A petition to the President and the U.S. Congress was delivered to Senator John Sherman Cooper by a delegation of three students and one faculty member. Finally, students organized a peaceful, silent march through downtown Danville on Saturday, May 9th.