Kent State seems like such an ordinary place … until you try to reckon with its meaning as a battlefield of the Vietnam War.
The students were defenseless. Still, even against the advancing soldiers, they believed they were safe to speak out on their campus. They were exercising three of the basic freedoms protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.
- Robert Giles, When Truth Mattered
The Guardsmen were clearly outnumbered. The students were entirely outgunned.
…under the pressure of deadline. They did it in the face of powerful opposition from the military, the Nixon administration, the state of Ohio and the university itself, as well as strong currents of negative public opinion.
In 1970, as now, the United States was deeply dis-united.
In many ways, the Kent State story was about a nation at war with itself.