To this day, military repression permeates the US. But as history has shown, resistance will always follow.
© Time & Life images
National Guard troops move in on a student protest at Kent State Ohio on 4 May 1970
Again and again, we learn that war abroad will find a way home.
On 30 April 1970, Richard Nixon
announced the US invasion of Cambodia
, a sovereign nation the US had been secretly bombing for several months. It was a saturation campaign involving 120 strikes a day by B-52s carrying up to 60,000 pounds of bombs each. But in the common doublespeak of war, the president claimed
: "This is not an invasion of Cambodia ... once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and once their military supplies are destroyed, we will withdraw".
Nixon's aggression against Cambodia was accompanied by a verbal assault on those inside the US opposing the war: "we live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home", he intoned. The next day, Nixon went to the Pentagon to clarify the point
: "you see these bums ... blowing up the campuses ... burning up the books, I mean storming around about this issue ... you name it, get rid of the war, there'll be another one".
On the rolling spring lawns of Kent State in the American heartland, students continued to press against an illegal, immoral war of occupation. The first entering classes of black students formed themselves into what was to become a growing wave of black student unions. Returning veterans were throwing their medals back at the war-mongers, and themselves becoming students.
Two days after the official invasion of Cambodia, 900 national guardsmen amassed on the Kent State
campus. M-1 rifles were raised, and within 13 seconds, 61 shots were fired on unarmed
students - four were dead, nine wounded. It was, the official presidential commission on campus unrest later found, "a nation driven to use the weapons of war upon its youth".