April 23-24, 1995
Mary Ann Vecchio meets John Filo
For twenty-five years, each had wondered what had become of the other...
On April 23, 1995, photographer John Filo and his photo subject Mary Ann Vecchio (Gillum) finally had the chance to speak to each other -- for the first time -- at Emerson's Kent State conference. They discovered how deeply the chance meeting of a journalist-in-training and a 14-year old runaway had altered their young lives.
Happier times today...
See the following accounts ...
The New York Times, various articles
The Boston Globe, Matt Bai, "25 years after Kent State, photographer, subject finally meet" (April 24, p.24)
Boston Sunday Herald, Joseph Mallia, "25 years later, photographer to meet his anguished subject" (April 23, p.12)
... also see Associated Press reports in newspapers across the country
Mary Ann Vecchio Gillum
Reporters had heard little from Mary Ann Vecchio (Gillum) since 1970, but were granted a press conference on April 23
Other press accounts of Mary Ann Vecchio's life since Kent State ...
Life, Janet Mason, "Caught in Time" (May 1995, p.39)
Mary Ann Vecchio Gillum Press Conference
Emerson College (Boston, MA) April 23, 1995 (transcript of most of the conference)
Gillum [...] I just wanted to be here, and I'm glad we're getting this all out and [...] all the people that has been affected by this and we can go on with our lives, and teach other people that that's not a way to act. It's not a way to be. And that we've got to have a peaceful society so we can go on and take care of the earth. It's an important place. Thank you.
[...] is all failure to communicate with other people. Communication is the key. That was the problem back in 1970. There was no communication between the government, the people, the students, housewives, steelworkers. There was no communication [then], and this will give us better communication and more understanding so that this doesn't happen again.
Q How did the picture change your mind?
Gillum It's hard to say why the picture changed my mind because it kind of put it on my shoulder. I felt that the guilt, shame... the horrific happening was on my shoulders and it's been very hard to deal with until now. The result -- what happened at Kent State and this -- I feel that they're also helping me to fight, understanding it and going on.
Q You were a runaway at that time?
Gillum I was 14 years old and I was a runaway.
I couldn't believe that people would kill people over what they thought, just because he demonstrated against the Vietnam War -- that they would shoot you over it. I couldn't believe... There was nothing I could do for Jeffrey or any of the other students. And that's part of history and that'll remain with me for the rest of my life.
I'm for human rights on a grass roots level. I have my husband Joe who I've been married to for 16 years and he has three sons. One lives in Milwaukee and one lives in Dayton and I have...
Q Where are you living now?
Gillum We live in Los Vegas and I work in a casino.
Q What do you do in the casino?
Gillum I'm a cashier right now.
I have a granddaughter in Milwaukee, so I have a ready-made family. No diapers. [laughs]
Q Have people recognized you from the photo here?
Gillum They do.
Q What do they say to you?
Gillum They're very sympathetic towards what had happened and some people aren't. Some people are very hurt over it. They can't understand. They went to Vietnam -- and came back. I work with some people who have come back from Vietnam, and they thought they were doing the right thing. I try and sit down and talk with them and explain my view of it. I'm not quite as afraid any more about talking about it. We talk about why it shouldn't happen, and how they were used by the military.
I believe it was the picture that [...] when the FBI and the police when they took me in.
Q How long after Kent State was that?
Gillum [...] I was still coping with it but I was ...
Q You said that there were some rocky times since then. What were some of the things that you've gone through?
Gillum Just trying to maintain a life.
Q I know you've been interviewed before...
Gillum I was interviewed last -- two weekends ago I [...] by ABC and the special we did last year about Kent State -- you know, going back for the first time. It was on NBC.