Thursday, August 23, 2018

Kent State

"We've got to go in there and I mean really go in." President Richard Nixon's face flushed. "I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of Cambodia."

"We should keep that campaign low-key," advised General Abrams, but Nixon disagreed. He modeled himself on his favorite movie, Patton, a portrayal of a controversial general that the president had seen five times.

So on Thursday, April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced his decision on all three U.S. TV networks. "Our will is being tested tonight. The time has come for action."

His campaign to invade Cambodia ignited a firestorm of antiwar protests in some 400 colleges.

Students at Kent State University in Ohio initially held peaceful protests, but later that night, they heaved beer bottles at police cars. About midnight, a mob of students rampaged through town, shattering windows.

The next day Kent State students firebombed the rickety old ROTC building on campus. The mayor called Governor Rhodes who declared martial law and sent 900 National Guardsmen to the campus.

Sunday remained quiet, but Monday, students gathered for a noon rally. Five times a campus policeman told students to scatter. They ignored him. 

Finally, guardsmen, carrying loaded rifles, submachine guns and pistols, moved forward. 

A student cried: "They've got guns now. You don't throw rocks against guns!" 

And finally, "My God! They're killing us!"

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