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From the archives: Kent State's Jeffrey Miller a 'war casualty,' says father

Plainview-Old Bethpage High School yearbook photo of Jeffrey

Plainview-Old Bethpage High School yearbook photo of Jeffrey Miller, who was killed in the Kent State shootings in 1970. (1967)

Editor's note: Forty-five years ago, on May 4, 1970, four students were shot and killed by National Guardsmen during an anti-war protest at Kent State University in Ohio. Nine other students were wounded. Among the dead was Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20, of Plainview. A day later, Newsday spoke with Miller's father at their home on Long Island.

This article originally appeared in Newsday on May 6, 1970

Jeffrey Glenn Miller considered himself a citizen of “The Woodstock Nation” which has been described as the state of mind that young people saw flowering in the mud at last summer’s rock festival near Bethel, N.Y. Miller once told his father that his experience at Woodstock confirmed his belief that love could change the world and give it peace.

“We just got along the way we wanted to at Woodstock; no violence,” he told his father. “It was great.” Violence caught up with Miller Monday in a volley of shots from National Guardsmen that killed him and three other students at Kent State University in Ohio.

“My son will probably be made a martyr,” his father said at the Millers’ 22 Diamond Dr. home here last night. “Well, I think that’s what he might have wanted. He wanted peace and love; he wasn’t a violent person. It’s such a waste.”

Jeffrey Miller was not an activist. He had not taken part in a demonstration until this past weekend, and the experience left him shaken. “Demonstrations – well, I guess that’s all these young people have,” his father said. “I can’t see it, but I’m of another generation. With these kids, it’s their only weapon. I can’t see tearing down buildings, or burning that ROTC building down, but I don’t think Jeff was a part of that.”

“I’m pretty well cried out from last night, but it still comes up. Youth is our greatest asset; why do we have to waste it this way? Maybe we adults are sick. Jeff was a war casualty, the same as if he was shot in Cambodia, or Vietnam, or Laos. And he didn’t even have a gun.”

Miller’s father said that his son was upset about “the way the government was going, the viewpoints and expressions that were being made. We talked about the war; he felt it was foolish for men to die over there.”

“Jeff was brilliant; he understood as much and reasoned everything out,” his father said. After graduation from Plainview-Old Bethpage High School in 1967, Jeff went to Michigan State University to study architecture but later decided to switch to Kent State and psychology. He seemed happy at the Ohio school, his father said.

Last summer, he worked as a taxicab driver in New York City. “He got a kick out of it, because he loved to talk to people,” his father said. “He did a very good job too.” It seemed, a friend from high school said, that Jeff was finding himself, losing his self-consciousness that had once made him hard to know. “He met a girl there at school; we were joking about it just a week ago,” his father said. “We don’t even know who she was.”

The elder Miller moved his family to Plainview from the Bronx about 12 years ago. “Thank God we did that, because all the kids in the house [we] were in have gone sour—drugs, car theft, everything.”

There was a long silence, as he looked around the living room of his house.

“This house, this whole environment, all for the kids. Now, who needs it any more?”

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