The Day the '60s Died (2015) Movie Script

Good evening,
my fellow Americans.
Tonight I want to talk to you
on a subject of deep concern
to all Americans
and to many people
in all parts of the world...
the war in Vietnam.
I believe
that one of the reasons
for the deep division
about Vietnam
is that many Americans
have lost confidence
in what their government has
told them about our policy.
But the question facing us
today is...
Now that we are in the war,
what is the best way to end it?
I think by 1970, what
Richard Nixon was seeking to do
was extricate us from the war
in such a fashion
that you would not pour
down a sewer
everything for which 40,000
Americans had died in Vietnam,
but I'm not sure the public
really understood that.
I mean it was a turbulent,
angry, violent time in America.
Bombings were very regular
in those days.
And there were people
in the streets
calling him
a murderer and a warmonger.
And I think
these things got to Nixon.
End the war! End the war!
We really thought
we would end the war.
We really thought
we could do it.
We were pushing each other to be
more and more revolutionary.
The noise of the time.
The revolution is come!
Don't ever say
we are going into a revolution.
We're in a revolution.
Now the question is...
who is going to win it?
These people just move
from one campus to the other
and terrorize a community.
We are going to eradicate
the problem.
Kent State University, May 4th.
Several days of student riots
brought the National Guard
to the campus.
You are subject to arrest.
It felt ugly and out of control,
and that certainly culminated
on that day, May 4th.
This is going to be an event
that's going to require force.
You could see the line
of Guardsmen moving out.
You just get a sense
that something's not right here.
We thought they were going to
march at us with bayonets.
And instead...
Four dead at Kent State.
That that could actually happen.
This was the price we paid
for opposing Nixon
and his genocidal policies.
Four American students lie dead,
slain in the heart
of middle America
by the violent temper
of our society.
They were warned. And I am
sorry they didn't kill more.
After Kent State,
Americans seemed to be
developing into warring tribes.
The whole demeanor
of everything changed.
It was like it was over.
The game was over.
Five. Four. Three. Two.
Happy New Year!
So it is farewell to the '60s.
Perhaps not the best decade
in history
but certainly not the worst,
There may be good reason
to look back in anger.
But there may also be reason
to look forward in hope.
The '60s was a time
of intense longing for truth.
It was a time of dreaming
of a better world.
How can society be better
than it is now?
As children, we believed
what we were taught...
that the United States was
a place where
there was peace, equality...
...of the United States
of America.
...and true democracy.
But we started to get
this message slowly but surely
over the years that there's more
going on in this country.
The U-H-1-D with its...
We became aware
of mass slaughter in Vietnam
at the beginning of the war.
It didn't take to 1975,
to know that we were murdering
people industrially.
We could see how wrong it was.
And you have to remember
there was a draft.
And everybody that wasn't
a rich kid was going and dying.
The American military command
today confirmed reports
that United States' dead
in the Vietnam War
now total more than 30,000.
I remember very clearly,
we all sat around the table
at 6:00 every night
and had dinner together,
and the news would be on.
And the body count,
reporting the body count
from the Vietnam War,
was part of our evening
experience every night.
And so all of the illusions
that kids are raised with
just fell away.
And so, throughout the '60s,
you had the sense of mission
that you were going to stand up
for what was right
and be part of the movement.
But it turned out, you know,
that it's not that easy,
to put together a movement.
When you're talking
about all of these people
from different groups
and it was getting bigger
and bigger and bigger,
I think it is easy
to just sort of go crazy.
Let me tell you
what is going on in Asia...
It's a genocidal war against us!
Because our parents send us
over there to die
because they want to kill us!
President Nixon said today his
administration was fully aware
of the antiwar sentiment
in this country,
and therefore there is nothing
new to be learned
from demonstrations.
I understand that there has been
and continues to be
to the war in Vietnam
on the campuses
and, also, in the nation.
However, under no circumstances
will I be affected whatever
by it.
Kids have been protesting
what they see as an evil war
for years
and seeing their hard work
rewarded with utter futility.
So by 1970,
the antiwar movement
has begun to splinter.
And with all the frustration
and the anger, the uncertainty,
no one knew
what was going to happen,
least of all the president.
This is a special report.
The President
of the United States
is about to address the nation
on Vietnam.
My fellow Americans,
five years ago,
American combat troops
were first sent to Vietnam.
The war since that time
has been the longest
and one of the most costly
and difficult conflicts
in our history.
I am therefore tonight
announcing plans
for the withdrawal
of an additional
150,000 American troops
to be completed
during the spring of next year.
You know,
when he campaigned in 1968,
Richard Nixon said
that if you elect him,
he would end the war
and win the peace.
These are encouraging trends.
In this speech,
it's almost like he's saying
the Vietnam War
is on the cusp of being over,
that we've finally reached the
light at the end of the tunnel.
We finally have in sight
the just peace we are seeking.
It must have been
a very satisfying speech
for Americans to watch
on their TV,
to realize that this ordeal
might finally be over.
But here's the thing.
Richard Nixon was lying.
He was planning
on extending the war
into an entirely new country.
The military brass
has been telling Nixon
that the Communists have
this secret mobile headquarters
in which they're running
the whole effort,
and it's in the jungles
of Cambodia,
and that if they can hit that,
then the whole Communist
war effort just dissolves.
Nixon called me down
to his office
around the 27th or 28th
and he says,
"We're going into Cambodia."
I said, "Are we bombing them?
Then they're going to know
we're coming."
And Nixon said, "No, we've been
bombing them for a long time."
The country had come to believe,
partly on the basis
of that April 20th speech,
that we were
gradually moving out
at a pretty high clip
and a pretty high rate,
and all of a sudden
there's a new war in Cambodia.
But Nixon said, "Look,
these guys are attacking
American soldiers in Vietnam.
They got these
privileged sanctuaries.
I'm going to go in
and clean them out.
The time has come for action.
Attacks are being launched
this week to clean out
major enemy sanctuaries on
the Cambodian-Vietnam border.
Nixon said,
"I'm not going to be the first
president to lose a war."
Well, one way not to be the
first president to lose a war
is to win it.
If the United States of America
acts like
a pitiful, helpless giant...
It is not our power
but our will and character
that is being tested tonight...
We will not be humiliated.
We will not be defeated...
I promise to win a just peace.
I shall keep that promise.
The first American troops
crossed the Cambodian border
within minutes
after President Nixon announced
the operation to the nation.
Most of men had no idea they
were going across the border
until this morning.
Okay, you asked
for a taped letter.
So I'm here, about five or six
miles from the Cambodian border.
It's pretty thick down there,
and it's supposed to be
an estimated battalion size
force of gooks
just moved in there,
about 4,000.
We were young kids. I was a
college student fighting a war.
I remember we had gotten
a phone call
saying that we are shipping
the unit to Cambodia.
And we all started laughing.
You know,
"We're not going to Cambodia."
We heard rumors, of course,
that there were some serious NVA
there and a lot of equipment,
but we had no idea that
the president had a strategy
or an announcement or anything.
No sense of the scope or range
of the incursion.
They issued us bayonets for the
first and only time in Vietnam,
which kind of gave some of us
the clue
that things might not be so good
in Cambodia.
Reaction on the campuses
was swift and predictable.
The students
and many of their teachers...
Since the President spoke,
disapproval has been strenuously
manifested by antiwar groups.
University and college campuses
have erupted in protest
from one end of the country
to the other.
Peace now! Peace now!
Peace now!
When Nixon announced
the Cambodia invasion,
that was, like, the last straw.
At the University of Maryland,
there was violence.
Students went to the university
armory and ransacked it.
They broke furniture
and burned uniforms.
Campus protests
also took violent form
at some other institutions
with firebombings at
Oregon State and Hobart College,
window smashing
and other destruction
at Stanford University.
Maryland's governor
has laid down a firm warning...
"Stop the violence
and stop it now.
We are not going to tolerate
any violence or destruction."
You suddenly had tremendous
numbers of kids who
would otherwise not be involved
in violence and things like that
were now involved.
And then we had
a hostile bureaucracy.
We had a hostile Congress.
This tragic war is tearing
our country apart bit by bit,
piece by piece,
and person by person.
I don't think
Cambodia's worth it.
So we felt besieged undeniably.
Nixon was enraged
that the liberal elites,
that members of Congress
were siding with these kids
who he saw as quite nearly
criminal anarchists.
In chatting with
Pentagon employees
who applauded him on the way in,
the President had some strong
words in a comparison he drew
between what he called
"the kids on campus"
and those in the war zone.
He's saying these people,
the real Americans who
appreciate the sting of battle,
they're the good guys.
And these other Americans,
we can call them bums,
which was just pouring gasoline
on the flames.
Fat chance!
They are here, aren't they?!
Yeah, there's more here!
Kent State University
was regarded as conservative
in orientation
at least in comparison
to other colleges.
We love America!
But Kent State was not
without its radicals
or political differences.
I had traveled
to dozens of campuses
and talked
about the coming revolution.
And I went to Kent State
in the fall of 1968,
and I was shocked
by how organized they were
and how militant they were.
That's the point.
Let's go out on campus.
Let's start rapping. Let's start
getting in the dorms.
And when we go to confront
the administration,
we got 15,000 strong!
Kent was a very alive
place in those days,
filled with people
who wanted to know the truth.
The downtown area of Kent where
all the students would meet
at places like Walter's Bar
and JB's and the Cove
also attracted a lot of townies,
and they hated the university.
It represented to them
and the degradation of America.
Friday night. May the 1st.
A minor skirmish developed
outside a tavern.
And before night became morning,
riot became reality.
The students kind of
gave the locals ammunition
by going out in the streets
and chanting.
And then fights broke out.
47 plate-glass windows
were smashed,
four police officers
were injured,
and 14 persons were arrested.
Kent Mayor LeRoy Satrom
imposes a dusk-to-dawn curfew
on the city.
That weekend,
I was given a warning order
to be prepared
to move to Kent, Ohio,
because of college rioting.
The intelligence
wasn't real good.
We had been informed that some
militants had arrived in town,
and that there was possibility
of some machine guns
that existed.
We were customarily handling
racial riots and strikes
and things of that nature.
We knew sooner or later
we were going to have to handle
the more radicalized
Saturday night,
I was in my dorm room,
and there was a line of people
marching past my window.
I could tell
it was a demonstration,
and I wanted to know
what people were talking about.
So I went out and joined it.
We ended up down on the Commons.
And there were a few people
who started trying to damage
the ROTC building.
And they tried to set
the building on fire.
And I...
You know, I was a good girl.
I mean, I was a rule follower.
I was pretty horrified.
When we arrived at town,
the entire sky was lit up
like you would see in Baghdad
with the reflection of the fires
and so on in the sky.
And it turned out that
that was the ROTC building
that was on fire.
The building
is engulfed in flames,
students are running,
dancing around it, making noise.
And I'm thinking,
"Who's in charge here?"
The fire trucks come.
The students
attack the fire hoses.
They start hacking at them
with knives.
I mean,
this is not innocent stuff.
This was not just a bunch
of peaceful protestors
who were set upon by murder-mad
National Guardsmen.
You had a real insurrectionist
situation going on here.
This morning, things were calm
as National Guardsmen
began a cleanup
and only a few charred rifles
Governor Rhodes, who visited
the campus this morning,
called it the worst violence
in the state of Ohio
and promised to crack down
on those involved.
I think that we're up against
the strongest, well-trained
militant revolutionary group
that has ever assembled
in America.
Rhodes blamed
the trouble at Kent
on what he called well-trained
revolutionary outsiders.
I think that Governor Rhodes,
who was a staunch,
conservative Republican,
and he would have done anything
to rid Kent State University
of any student activists or
political protests or dissent.
These people just move
from one campus to the other
and terrorize the community.
They're worse
than the brown shirt
and the Communist element
and, also, the night riders
and the vigilantes.
They're the worst.
He dehumanizes the protestors
in the most aggressive
possible way.
We are going to
eradicate the problem.
We're not going to treat
the symptoms.
It's a complete act
of demagoguery
and, of course, just manages
to fan the flames some more.
Sunday night,
students clash with National
Guardsmen and law officials.
The result
of dissent versus suppression.
Sunday night, things got worse.
A group of students
marched to the corner of campus
at Lincoln and Main
where we were stopped.
There was a curfew in effect,
but we just sat down
on the pavement
in the intersection.
A helicopter with a search light
came overhead
and came down really low,
so it was really loud.
And the Guardsmen
were brandishing their bayonets.
So it was scary.
69 persons were arrested
on charges ranging
from curfew violation
to carrying weapons.
Firing never came
into the picture.
Although we were armed.
We had weapons, we had bullets,
we had all those things
that go with it.
I remember having this sense
of now the Guardsmen
were this intrusive presence.
Monday morning, May 4th.
Students plan a noon rally,
and law officials say
they are prepared
for any further violence.
Approximately 600
National Guardsmen
from Akron
and the Cleveland areas
are deployed either on campus
or in the community nearby.
The Guard was called in response
to student disturbances
that resulted in the burning
of an ROTC building.
As the result of action
on the KSU campus,
orders have been issued
to Guardsmen
banning all outdoor rallies
and demonstrations,
peaceful and otherwise.
Whenever there was
a demonstration
of any kind of magnitude,
someone would ring the bell,
which you could hear
almost all across campus,
because that's how huge
of a bell it is.
And people would gather.
I got up and went over
to my friend Julie's room.
She was getting ready.
And I'm thinking, "Oh, my God.
We're going to be late
for the revolution."
I mean, you know, "Be late
for the rally. Come on, Julie!"
It was almost like
a festive occasion.
Students on the side,
laughing and talking,
hanging out of their
dorm windows, playing music.
People are walking
around in pretty good moods.
And it was such a beautiful day.
You know, I feel good.
One, two, three, four!
We don't want your... war!
One, two, three, four!
We don't want your... war!
My personal recollection
was that they were
just sitting around yelling
and doing the thing
that student demonstrators do.
But we had orders to deal
with student unrest.
So we formed a line where the
burned-out ROTC building was.
Leave this area immediately.
Leave this area immediately.
And of course,
the students are going,
"Hell no!" you know.
Pigs off campus!
Pigs off campus!
I was going there to exercise
my Constitutional rights.
You know, not only was Nixon
expanding this illegal war,
but now our ability to disagree
with that was being squelched
by the presence of the Guard
on campus.
I'm thinking
this is going to be
an event
that's gonna require force.
By that, I mean, tear gas.
Sure enough,
the tear gas starts.
Some of the more militant
they're ready with their rags
and their water bottles,
trying to throw the canisters
back at the Guardsmen.
And at that point, we think
"Okay, this is a ritual."
The Guard would advance.
Do their thing
with the tear gas.
Some students would throw it
back at them.
This sort of wavelike action.
Back and forth, back and forth.
The demonstrators were showing
really huge acts of aggression.
People would run forward
and throw things at you,
you know,
rocks and things like that.
Most people wanted to
move further... you know,
basically maintain their
distance from the Guardsmen.
You're trying to stay
away from the tear gas.
And we all went over the hill,
and they came right over
the hill after us.
I got scared. That's
the only honest thing I can say.
I thought they were going
to turn around
and go back
where they had come from.
You just get a sense
that something's not right here,
something's going to go on here.
We thought they were going to
march at us with bayonets.
And instead...
It's hideous.
It's unbelievable.
The guns were loaded.
You're seeing the results
of real gunshots.
I sat down cause I thought
I was going to pass out.
And I'm looking up at the sky
and all these beautiful
old-growth trees
with just buds on them
and trying to, like, concentrate
on that,
'cause I can't deal
with what I've just seen.
You know, I'm 19.
There was a boy.
And he was lying facedown
in the street.
He was just very still,
and I wasn't thinking
consciously that he was dead.
I was just thinking
that he was very still.
But there was an enormous amount
of blood.
The very first thing I did
was check everybody's rifle
to make sure that nobody
in my company had fired.
Let them slaughter us!
Are they going to slaughter us
Fortunately, for everybody,
some very rational and heroic
professors showed up there
and talked some sense
into both sides.
Just sit down.
Sit down, please! Just sit down!
We know they called in more
troops. We can see them.
Sit down.
We sat down in rows
on this slope.
And it was, you know, like...
I felt like I was in class.
I don't care whether
you've never listened to anyone
before in your lives.
I am begging you right now.
If you don't disperse right now,
they're going to move in,
and it can only be a slaughter.
Would you please listen to me?!
Jesus Christ! I don't want
to be a part of this!
Glenn Frank
was begging us to leave.
And he was crying.
And I had never seen a man cry
So we did.
And we picked these directions
that if the Guards started
shooting again,
somebody would be alive
to tell the story.
AFVN News,
compiled from commercial
and military news agencies.
Joint US-ARVN operations in the
Fish Hook region of Cambodia...
The day we flew into Cambodia,
we arrived just before sunset.
It was in a very lush, green
jungle area, nice clearing.
Had a dirt berm.
I remember we were setting up
our fire base,
and we were listening
to my radio.
And that's when I heard
about Kent State University.
Four students were killed today
at Kent State University in Ohio
in a confrontation with National
Guardsmen and police
during a rally to protest the
U.S. involvement in Cambodia.
We were all in shock.
The National Guardsmen
would've been about our age.
The students at Kent State
would've been about our age,
...gas canisters...
I remember feeling real anger
that a bunch
of National Guard guys
would shoot down
college students.
You know, if some kid's throwing
a brick at me
and I've got a loaded rifle,
I don't feel intimidated.
We couldn't believe that
Governor Rhodes would even allow
the National Guard to carry
live ammunition on a campus,
let alone
that someone would open fire.
So that was very unsettling.
Of course, that was
personally painful.
But having said that,
that was back in the world.
And it was a very sharp line.
What was happening
in "the world"
is a whole not her universe.
The school president
told the students
that protesting is not the way
to get out of Cambodia.
One, two, three.
"The Dick Cavett Show."
With the Reverend
Dr. Billy Graham.
What do you feel
about the criticism
that the administration
is contributing
to the division in the country
by such things as the President
calling the dissenters "bums"?
I'm sure that he didn't
mean for the whole public
to hear
that particular terminology.
I don't know.
I haven't talked to him.
So I'm just guessing. I've never
heard him call them bums.
It seems like, this
tragedy yesterday in Ohio
where the four students
were shot,
in a sense, that kind of thing
can somehow be linked to this
sort of unfortunate language.
You know, I'm not saying
that the President
wanted anyone killed
because that's absurd.
Well, I think that the situation
in Kent is tragic and terrible.
I was just sick when I heard it.
I knelt in prayer.
And I said, "Oh, God,
what's happening to us,
that this could happen
in America?"
But I also see that some of
these things at the universities
are not becoming dissent
They're becoming mob action.
And this is very dangerous.
Gallup does a poll.
"Who's responsible
for the students' deaths?"
58% percent of Americans
say the students are responsible
for their own deaths.
Only 11 %
blame the National Guard.
What do you think
about the shooting at Kent?
That people
weren't behaving properly,
and apparently they have asked
for that sort of thing.
So you think the Guard
was justified?
Yes, I do. I am sorry
they didn't kill more.
Yes, because they were warned.
And they knew
what was happening,
and they should have moved out.
If that's what it took
to break them up,
well, then,
that's what it takes.
I mean, it's almost like
the consensus of opinion in
the United States of America...
that antiwar protesters
deserved to die.
Right after the shooting,
we were ordered off campus.
We had to leave.
So I got home.
My mother wasn't there.
My father walked
in the back door.
And he looks at me and he says,
"They should have shot
all of them."
And I said to him... and I never
talk back to my father...
I said, "Don't you know, then,
that one of those people
would have been me?"
And he just walked
into the other room.
The two young women and two
young men killed yesterday
are described
by those who knew them
as quiet and not at all radical
or revolutionary.
Sandy Scheuer was 20,
from Youngstown, Ohio.
Not much interested in politics
and mainly liked to cook.
Jeffrey Miller was 20,
from Plainview, New York.
William Schroeder
of Lorraine, Ohio.
Allison Krause, 19,
from Pittsburgh.
Today her father
read a statement.
She resented being called a bum
because she disagreed
with someone else's opinion.
She felt that war in Cambodia
was wrong.
Is this dissent a crime?
Is this a reason
for killing her?
Have we come to such a state
in this country
that a young girl...
has to be shot
because she disagrees deeply
with the actions
of her government?
The White House tonight
issued the following statement,
and I quote directly,
"The President shares the
sadness of the parents involved
and that of all Americans over
these unnecessary deaths.
This should remind us all that
when dissent turns to violence,
it invites tragedy."
The image I have indelibly
in my mind is of that photo.
I think to the young people
in the White House,
our reaction to Kent State was
this overwhelming sense of,
"Oh, my goodness,
this is just terrible."
And I was saying that
as someone who supported
the actions of the President.
We knew that if all hell
was breaking loose before,
it was really going to break
loose now.
Four dead students
at Kent State was a symbol
of how far off the rails
the country had gone.
In its wake
is a profound reaction.
The students start going crazy.
Hundreds of campuses
went out on strike.
Kent State, Ohio State,
the entire
California University system...
All were shut down
by the events of the week.
Authorities used tear gas
to control rock-throwing crowds
at such scattered locations
as the University of Wisconsin,
the University of Buffalo,
and the University of Texas.
Strikes at hundreds of campuses,
involving millions of people,
that I remember thinking,
"This is bigger than anything
that students have ever done
If there is still
a campus in this country
which has not yet struck
against these crimes
of the Nixon administration,
we call upon them
to join us immediately.
The death of the four
Kent State students
caused a wave of shock
and anguish
that 41,000 American deaths
in Vietnam
have never managed to raise.
Violence is the only thing
the country seems to be
understanding right now.
We all give the peace sign
and we all march
and we say, "Peace now."
But what happens, man?
The man stands and looks at us.
The events of this
past week have polarized
not only
the opposition to the war
but also the opposition
to the antiwar movement.
New York City yesterday
offered a chilling illustration
of that division.
Peace now! Peace now!
Peace now!
Hundreds of youthful
antiwar demonstrators
have crowded onto the steps of
the old U.S. Treasury Building,
their slogans
laced with obscenities.
Soon dozens, then hundreds
of hard-hatted workers
from nearby construction jobs
stormed into the square,
charged through police lines,
chasing the protesters
from the steps,
beating those who did not move
fast enough
and the few
who tried to slug it out.
...antiwar demonstrators
are on the run.
You had white
construction workers
beating antiwar protesters.
And the Wall Street traders
are cheering them on.
Americans seem to be developing
into warring tribes.
Awild, crazy melee.
Police trying to break it up.
All right, give me some cover!
I knew about the protest,
but it had no bearing.
It was what was in front of you
that was pertinent.
I remember very clearly,
the first few fights,
being very overwhelmed
and very stunned.
Before Cambodia, I carried
12 magazines for my rifle.
By the second week in Cambodia,
I was carrying 30 magazines
for my rifle.
The NVA had way more experience
than we did.
They were dedicated,
hardcore soldiers.
They were the pros.
We found weapons.
We found ammunition,
and we found a lot of activity
in the area.
As we got deeper into Cambodia,
we made contact
every single day.
I knew that there
was a peace movement going on,
and I was kind of glad
there was.
I believe that if people
weren't demonstrating,
we might still be there.
Get him back here if you can!
Can you move him?!
Let me tell you, all we wanted
to do was get back to the world.
That's all we talked about.
All right, who's wounded?
Okay, bring him back.
Bring him back here.
Everybody is still down there...
The pressure on President
Nixon over Cambodia
has grown daily since
the killing of four students
at Kent State University.
As many as 100,000 protesters,
most of them students,
will demonstrate in Washington
1,500 District of Columbia
National Guardsmen
have been called up.
5,000 federal troops
are on alert.
Police Chief Jerry Wilson said
his entire force of 4,000 men
will be on duty
to prevent trouble.
I remember I came in to work
and I went downstairs to get
a pack of cigarettes
and I ran head-on
into the 82nd Airborne.
There were what seemed
like thousands,
I'm sure it was only hundreds,
of troops
stationed in the basement
with nothing to do,
just waiting there
to protect the White House.
And there were buses
circling the entire White House
down around the Ellipse
because there was real fear
that the demonstrators
would come at the White House.
And if they did, you're going to
have to stop them.
Good evening.
This is the President's second
live televised press conference
this year... his first
since his announcement
of the Cambodian invasion.
But it is also
the most important,
the most crucial
of his presidency...
So right before this
giant demonstration,
Richard Nixon
gives a press conference.
He didn't give
all that many of them.
- Mr. President!
- Captain.
What do you think
the students are trying to say
with this demonstration?
They are trying to say
that they want peace.
They are trying to say that
they want to stop the killing.
They are trying to say that
they want to end the draft.
They are trying to say that
we ought to get out of Vietnam.
I think I understand
what they want.
I would hope they would
understand somewhat what I want.
One of them asks
this astonishing one...
"Is America having
a revolution?"
Briefly, this country
is not headed for revolution.
In your inaugural
address, you said
that one of your goals was
to bring us together in America,
you said that you wanted to
bring peace to Vietnam.
It seems that we're farther
than ever from those goals.
How do you account
for this apparent failure?
I mean they wouldn't let him
get away with anything.
Mr. President,
have you been surprised
by the intensity
of these protests?
They indicated that you
had agreed to tone down
the criticism of those
who disagree with you.
Sir, things look
generally discouraging.
What is your policy
toward Cambodia's future?
Have you in recent
days felt isolated?
Would you explain
this apparent contradiction?
That night, Richard Nixon
spends like four or five hours
just randomly calling people...
reporters, politicians.
And he does this until like,
you know, 3:00 or 4:00 a.m....
almost till dawn.
Then he relaxes
by going into his study,
blasting his favorite piece,
this bombastic
Rachmaninoff piece.
And then this astonishing thing
probably one of the most
astonishing things we have
on the record of the presidency.
The phone rings
and I was half asleep
and I answer the phone
and it was John Ehrlichman.
And he said, "He's gone
to the Lincoln Memorial."
And I said, "Who's gone
to Lincoln Memorial?"
He said, "The President."
And I went, "Oh."
In his memoirs, Richard
Nixon would explain
that he couldn't sleep,
slept fitfully.
And so he got up and he talked
to his valet, "Manolo" Sanchez.
He said, "You know, Manolo,
the Lincoln Memorial
is so beautiful at night."
The capital is full of
antiwar protesters.
And he kind of just wanders out
among them.
When I got there
everybody was saying,
"The president, the president.
That's the president."
And their eyes were, you know,
as big as saucers.
He has what they used to call
in those days a rap session,
and it's just absolutely nuts.
To say it's surreal,
I think, misses
about 50% of the experience.
The discussion ranged from why
he was going into Cambodia,
his desire
to save American lives,
how hard it is to govern,
what you should be doing
when you're governing.
And then he was gone.
Richard Nixon
was a sensitive man.
He was sensitive
in a way that I am not.
I was very concerned that the
demonstrations and the hostility
and the hatred all spilling out
against him, and the attacks,
that it was getting to him.
The day of dissent
dawned brightly in Washington
as the young and the
not-so-young began to gather,
and moved toward the sweep of
green south of the White House
that is known as the Ellipse.
No one was sure early in the day
how things would go.
There was concern
about violence
because nobody on either side
wanted to see
a bunch of students getting shot
dead on the Ellipse.
The people of the world
are watching us
because the American protestors
are holding out the last hope.
Say you're against the war
if you've got some guts!
We are here to demand
an end to the war in Vietnam,
not in '72, not in '71,
but in 1970.
But, you know,
it was also a big festival.
Oh, here's to the schools
of Richard Nixon
Where they're teaching
all the children
that they
don't have to care...
Getting out there
with people who were wearing
the same kind of clothes
as you were
and smoking grass
and having a good time.
The big demonstration
had a strange air of anti-climax
about it.
The protest movement has changed
only in its greater size.
And it has nothing new to say.
The same rhetorical phrases,
the same meaningless substitutes
for thought
like "Power to the People,"
"End the Establishment,"
the same intellectual and moral
sin of generalizing the specific
so that one speaker shouts,
"It was Mr. Nixon
who pulled the trigger,
killing the students
at Kent State."
I got the sense
that this was the revolt
of the over-privileged.
And I remember writing a memo
to the president where I said,
"Stop the patronizing
these students.
They disagree with us, they've
got their point of view,
they don't like us, that's fine.
We have our point of view,
we've thought it through,
we believe we're right,
they disagree.
Let's just move forward."
Up to this hour tonight,
the student demonstrators
and their supporters
at least have done their part
to "Cool it."
There has been little violence.
This demonstration has been
within the confines
of decent dissent.
Our report this evening
leads one to hope
that this week
in American history
has brought us to that point.
This is Walter Cronkite.
Good night.
We got two dead
and about five wounded.
Two young Negroes,
a high-school student
named James Green
and a college student
named Philip Gibbs,
were shot to death early today
by police
who fired into a crowd
in front of a women's dormitory
at Jackson State College
in Jackson, Mississippi.
15 others were wounded.
Part of the protest
that night was about Cambodia.
But it wasn't really
just one thing.
I mean, we were struggling
with political issues
in the Deep South.
But we had no idea that
it was going to get escalated
to the point they would have to
call in the state troopers
and the city police.
A crowd of students
had gathered
in front
of the girl's dormitory,
which is now riddled
with bullet holes.
I saw one man in the crowd
of troopers raise a bull horn.
Now, he raised the bull horn,
but he said absolutely nothing.
A split-second later,
he started firing.
Bullets were flying
all over my head.
People behind me
were bleeding and falling.
The city police. The highway
patrol. The state troopers.
None of these people offered to
give any aid to this dying man.
To think that 30 or 40
law-enforcement officers,
armed with rifles and shotguns
would walk up the street
on a college campus,
a couple hundred yards,
and open fire
on a bunch of kids.
Young people started
to turn away from the fight.
The effect of it
was total demoralization.
Word got around.
After Kent State
and Jackson State,
I think there was
a national concern
about how far
can we take legitimate dissent
without worrying
about losing one's life?
Here in New York today,
there was a massive display
of American flags,
as more than 100,000 marchers
to show support
for the administration.
Probably not since
the Second World War
or maybe even
the First World War,
has New York City seen
an outburst of patriotic fervor
that can match this one.
I think after Kent State,
that terrible event,
you wondered if it was
all coming up unstuck,
But then the real Americans,
most of them probably Democrats
in New York,
were marching
in support of the war
and were standing up
for the values and convictions
of Richard Nixon.
It was a formative moment
of America's new majority.
The generational anger
that Vietnam created
was a spontaneous
ground-up anger.
But the Nixon Administration
exploited it.
We're here as Americans.
We're here even though
we disagree
with many things
that may be said by others.
We're here to try to work
with them
for the future of our country.
What I can tell you for sure
was that Nixon appreciated
the political fallout
from Kent State,
because that really became
the lever he used
to bring white blue-collar,
patriotic Americans
into the Republican party.
We're the fellows
who build this country.
We're the fellows who build
the hospitals
when they need them
when they're sick.
We build the bridges and tunnels
for them to get around in.
We build the schools
that they want to burn down.
And we also build all of the
other things in this country.
So what you had to do
was watch the Democratic party,
these fissures open up
and drive a wedge through them
and take the portions
of the Democratic party
which were compatible
with Nixon.
By speaking to their patriotism,
by speaking to their rage
at people who were cutting
against the grain
of traditional American values.
And attach them
to the Republican Party
on a permanent basis.
And that's how Nixon created
that new majority.
Okay. I don't know...
It's been a long time
since I sent you a tape.
When we get back to Vietnam,
we're supposed to be going in
for a battalion stand-down,
which was going to be six days,
Just getting out of Cambodia...
and getting out alive...
was amazing.
I have been losing
a lot of friends over here.
One of the guys that my company
from NCO School in OJ was killed over here
in Cambodia.
And it's just... I don't know.
It's hard to take.
We saw so many of our friends...
...either killed
or severely wounded
that we actually couldn't wait
to get back to Vietnam.
I will be glad to get away
from this place.
I'm just sick and tired
of fighting.
I'm sick and tired of blood.
I don't want to put
any of my friends that are
just graduating from college
through what I've been through.
They're the ones
that are gonna have to be coming
over here and fighting.
And they don't want to fight.
I don't see any reason
why they should.
I might have thought different
before I came into Cambodia,
but that was before I'd seen
so many guys lose their lives.
I had no illusion
that Richard Nixon
was going to end the war
with peace and with honor.
And it certainly was not going
to happen during my tour.
My mission was very clear,
to ensure that my men
had the best possible chance
to survive that experience.
We closed down the fire base
we had,
and Chinook helicopters came
to take a platoon at a time.
And so the bird sat down.
My platoon was the last one
to leave.
And I remember walking to
the front where the pilots sat,
and I bent over and kissed
the one pilot on his visor
and smiled at him.
If I had a feeling
of doing good,
as I looked down the two lines
of seating, counted heads,
and I said, "I have 25 guys
I am bringing back."
We are going back
to the safe zone... Vietnam.
Let's go back to the nice war.
A grand jury in Ohio today
indicted 25 students and
agitators on criminal charges
connected with the killings
at Kent State
and absolved the National Guard
of any legal responsibility
for the killings.
The special state grand jury
said the Guard "acted
in self-defense."
It indicted 25 students
and agitators
for "deliberate
criminal conduct."
I returned to Kent
in the fall of 1970.
And the Kent campus
was very subdued.
It was a depressed place.
It was a changed place.
on the Kent State campus
have changed since last May.
Students will have to show
color-coded identification cards
to avoid the new trespass
regulations on campus.
The school has set up
new rumor-control machinery.
In addition,
the Ohio Legislature
has declared
campus disturbances illegal.
Everyone seems to be confused.
They are really confused.
They don't know where
they are going right now.
They don't know what to do.
They are waiting for an answer.
It was easy to see
that the movement
was fragmented, co-opted,
turned inside out
and that the things we were
dissenting about we lost.
I realized totally how little
the actual equation of the world
the students in America were.
We did all the things
we knew how to do...
and then nothing happened.
The government forces
got what they wanted.
Because, basically,
if you can shoot students
and get away with it,
you know,
kids learn their lesson.
How many people want to give up
their lives...
no matter how committed
they are?
I still believed
in the revolution.
It's hard to explain.
You have a belief in something
so big and so beautiful
that you won't give up.
To give up the belief
is to surrender.
So we dispersed.
We went to teach school.
We went to be lawyers.
We went to live in the woods.
We went to grow organic gardens
and start health-food stores.
Some people just toed the
line and went back and said,
"Okay, Dad, I will work
in your hardware store now."
My husband and I got married
and we left the campus
and we went to Connecticut
and we both got jobs.
And we started living that life.
I started to make art
because it is easy to say, "This
is terrible. This is terrible."
Let me see
something that isn't terrible.
The women's movement came along.
Oh, my God.
The women's movement,
and there was all that to do.
What do we want?
When do we want it?
The women's movement,
the gay-rights movement,
those were sort of descendants
of the antiwar movement.
- I am...
- I am...
- ...somebody!
- ...somebody!
It was exactly the same people
with exactly the same desires
for a fair and equal life
where everybody had a chance
and people could live together
in peace.
It was exactly
the same kind of people.
Bob Smeal died for these medals!
died so I got a medal.
Sergeant Johns died
so I got a medal!
I got a Silver Star,
a Purple Heart,
Army Commendation Medal,
eight Air Medals,
National Defense,
and the rest of this garbage!
It doesn't mean a thing!
Last night I had
the strangest dream
I've ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world
had all agreed
To put an end to war
And that certainly
looks like a Nixon sweep.
President Nixon
has been re-elected.
He has gone over the top
with Michigan...
1972 was the nation's verdict
on the antiwar movement.
And we won 49 states to one.
George McGovern got the People's
Republic of Massachusetts
and D.C.
My hometown.
we won the battle of the '60s
and the '70s and the '80s.
But inevitably the other side
had captured the culture.
And if you capture the culture
of a country,
eventually you might prevail.
I would only hope that
in these next four years,
we can so conduct ourselves
in this country
that years from now
people will look back
to the generation of the 1970s,
at how we've conducted ourselves,
and they will say,
"God Bless America."
Thank you very much.