Chapter 12-2 Air Force One Fort Smith - 300px.jpg

Nixon was so excited…

Among the dignitaries on Air Force One: a still relatively unknown Henry Kissinger, also Congressmen John Paul Hammerschmidt and George Bush -- both members of the same political party, both pilots and heroes during the war, but on opposite sides of the political checker board on game day. And consider the further presence at the stadium of Senator J. William Fulbright, past president of the University of Arkansas and harsh critic of Nixon's Vietnam policy. At the conclusion of the game, these two men would temporarily call a truce to their own "political shootout" and enter the Arkansas dressing room together. And God's presence in the stadium that day was expressly invoked by Billy Graham's delivery of the pre-game invocation.

But this was more than just a football game -- just as 1969 was more than just a calendar year. The summer of '69 brought us the moon landing and Woodstock, along with a tragic murder spree in California by some disciples of a fellow named Charles Manson. By that fall, war protests were occurring on college campuses across the country with more frequency than Horn and Hog touchdowns combined. Only five days before the "Shoot Out," the United States implemented a controversial draft lottery prompting thousands of college-aged youngsters to flee to Canada and Timbuktu and beyond. One day before kick-off, an Army board conducted an inquiry concerning the murder (some would say massacre) of 109 South Vietnamese civilians in a hamlet called Mai Lai. That same night in Fayetteville, some good ole boys in a pickup truck shot a black Arkansas student in retaliation for student protest of the Arkansas band's tradition of playing Dixie after a Razorback score. Fortunately, the bullet caused little injury - the victim eventually graduated from Arkansas law school; and years later would interrogate another Arkansas graduate from that period by the name of Clinton concerning an incident known as Whitewater. Oh yeah, it was the last national championship decided with all white players on the gridiron. Integration would be realized off the bench and on the playing field for both teams only in the following year.