Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming, We’re finally on our own… Forty years ago today, on Thursday, April 30, 1970, Richard Milhouse Nixon, the president of the United States, appeared on television for a special announcement about the Vietnam War. He told us that US troops, tens of thousands of them, had moved into Cambodia, expanding an already prolonged and costly war into another country. He claimed it was a necessary step toward ending the war, and toward insuring that the US would not be perceived in the world as “a pitiful helpless giant.”
Today that incredible upsurge, which pretty much shut down the 1969-70 school year throughout much of the American higher education system, is remembered mainly through one of its most dramatic events–the killing of four students at Kent State University by a sustained fusillade of gunfire from Ohio National Guard troops occupying their campus.
For forty years, the veterans of those days and younger activists have struggled to keep alive the memories of Kent State and of the subsequent police murders of two more students, this time at a traditionally Black college in Mississippi, Jackson State. We have succeeded in this, helped in part by that amazing mnemonic, Neil Young’s heartbreaking song, “Ohio,” which opens with the couplet at the start of this piece.