For the first time since my book was released, I paid a visit to Kent State.
Since it’s the break between Summer and Fall semesters, I had the campus completely to myself. I can count the people I encountered on just two hands, which would hardly be the case in another week when 25,000 students flood back onto campus.
Last time I was here was in February 2020. I had just returned from the Angoulême Comics Festival in France and a subsequent tour, and was gearing for to the looming release of the book, originally scheduled In April. I had an interview with the university’s NPR station, WKSU, to kick off the promotion blitz. The reporter and I walked around the campus and talked about the events of 1970.
Two weeks later the pandemic hit like a hurricane. The release of the book was pushed back to Fall 2020, my 6-month-long book tour went up in a puff of smoke, and the whole world went into lockdown.Seems like a thousand years ago.
So I spent an hour or so wandering the site and reflecting. It’s a very moving experience to trace the footsteps of the people whose stories I recount. They felt very close by.
The pylons here mark the spot where Jeff Miller fell. At the top of the hill, way in the distance, is the Pagoda, where the Guardsmen wheeled and opened fire. The distance you see here completely erases the Guard's lie that they "feared for their lives." There was no one near them when they opened fire. Jeff was the closest of the four killed to the soldiers!