67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence
May 4 1970 was your average day in Vietnam, seeing two dozen deaths of US soldiers. President Nixon had just announced the bombing of Cambodia, which led to massive protests on college campuses. Kent State University had recently come alive with unrest in town involving a near riot, which resulted in the Mayor calling in the National Guard. The university had seen the burning of the ROTC building along with rumors of a protest rally on campus on the 4th. The fuse was lit on a powder keg and the explosion was imminent. 67 shots would ring out on the Ohio campus at mid-day. When the smoke cleared & some semblance of order was restored, 4 were dead, scores wounded. The questions would be numerous, the answers almost nil. What led to the triggers being squeezed that shattered the calm of that Monday afternoon? Poor training, sleep deprivation, youth of the troops is blamed, while the establishment blamed the incendiary nature of the clash and the riotous hatred of the student led mob. Questions of outside agitation were repeatedly raised and culpability was spread on all sides.
Howard Means’ look at a horrible moment in US history is crucial to understanding the law, poltiics, basic rights and how occasionally all three clash, and how the former fail the latter. The author doesn’t pick sides in the telling of those momentous days, just shedding a flash light on history (known & unknown). Means sees this event as different than other shootings (school & protest), because of the climate surrounding it, the questions still surrounding May 4 and what lessons have been learned from it or ignored. The bottom line is May 4, 1970 still resonates in America for the survivors and those who watched.
Da Capo Press