When newspaper coverage of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret, 47-volume study of the United States’ role in Indochina from World War II through the Vietnam War in 1968, first broke in 1971 in The New York Times and The Washington Post, I was a young language arts teacher in a Chicago suburb. I was sadly very ignorant about the impact of these highly classified papers on then-President Richard M. Nixon. I only knew many of our friends were either serving in Vietnam or trying to avoid being drafted.
Shame on me for not taking more interest at the time, especially since my minor in college was history and I had many informal teachers lounge discussions with colleagues about the war. After all, these documents spanned the terms of five of our presidents: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Nixon. They were part of a study prepared by the United States Department of Defense.