The uprising on Oct 14, 1973 may not have turned Thailand into a fully fledged democracy, but it is a reminder to the ruling class not to ignore the people's voice, says Jerachon Boonmak, the only son of the first casualty in the clashes.
His father, Jira, was killed by security forces during the student-led protest against the dictatorship of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachon.
A master's degree student at the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida), Jira, who was 29 at the time, was not convinced by state radio broadcasts that the protesters were rioting and heading to Chitralada Palace.
He went to the Public Relations Department to see for himself, his wife Lamied, 68, said.
According to a book on the Oct 14 massacre, Jira was telling soldiers not to harm the protesters and was about to throw them an orange.
The soldiers thought Jira meant harm and gunned him down.
His body was carried to the nearby Democracy Monument. The clashes which occurred between security forces and the protesters resulted in 77 deaths and more than 800 injuries.
Field Marshal Thanom was forced to resign and went into exile abroad.
In Jira's honour, an auditorium at Nida was named Jira Boonmak.
"The Oct 14 incident had profound effects on the families of those who lost loved ones," Mr Jerachon said. The 40th anniversary of the uprising falls on Monday.
Mr Jerachon, now a lecturer at the Banditpattanasilp Institute, Salaya campus, said the annual commemoration serves to remind governments they cannot rule without listening to the people.
"My father might be just a drop of water that went into the stream of events during the past four decades. But my mother has an unwavering determination to make sure that his death was not for nothing," Mr Jerachon said.
Ms Lamied has campaigned for recognition of the Oct 14 casualties and their relatives over several decades.
Mr Jerachon said he received scholarships to finish his studies in the wake of his father's death. Other families of Oct 14 casualties have had to struggle harder, he said.
After the massacre, the state set up a 30-million-baht fund which provided monthly support of 400 baht to relatives of the dead and injured. The fund was exhausted in 2004.
In 2006, the Thaksin Shinawatra government approved a lump-sum remedial payout of 77 million baht _ 3 million baht for each survivor and half a million baht to relatives of victims. Still, the network of survivors and relatives pleaded with the state to give them a final payment on humanitarian grounds.
Finally, the Abhisit government agreed to pay the association's members _ 14 have since died _ 7,000 baht a month.
Prawais Em-amorn, 59, one of the 50 remaining members of the relatives network, said Pheu Thai adviser Prommin Lertsuriyadet, who was an Oct 14 activist himself, had told the the network that the cabinet will endorse the monthly payment.
For Mr Jerachon, the only thing that has kept him and the other relatives of the victims going is a sense of pride that the deaths have contributed to advancing democracy in the country.