The May 4 Memorial
On-line Audio Documentary from WKSU - "Remembering Kent State, 1970"
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Kent State University was placed in an international spotlight after a tragic end to a student demonstration against the Vietnam War and the National Guard on May 4, 1970. Shortly after noon on that Monday, 13 seconds of rifle fire by a contingent of 28 Ohio National Guardsmen left four students dead, one permanently paralyzed, and eight others wounded. Not every student was a demonstration participant or an observer. Some students were walking to and from class. The closest student wounded was 30 yards away from the Guard, while the farthest was nearly 250 yards away.
The divisive effect of the Vietnam War on American society was especially evident on campuses throughout the country. At Kent, the day after the announcement to send U.S. troops into Cambodia marked the start of a weekend of anti-war protests that began on campus and spilled into the city of Kent's downtown. Broken windows and other damage to a number of downtown businesses prompted fear, rumors, and eventually a call by the city's mayor to the governor for assistance.
The National Guard arrived Saturday night. That day some students assisted with the downtown cleanup. That night some other students set fire to the campus headquarters of the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). Sunday morning the governor came to Kent and in the city's firehouse held a press conference saying the University would remain open. After a Sunday of relative calm, an anti-war rally at noon on Monday brought 2,000 to 3,000 people to the University Commons area. When the Guard gave the order to disperse, some in the crowd responded with verbal epithets and stones. The Guard answered with tear gas, but when the spring winds altered its effect, the Guard attempted to enforce the Ohio Riot Act with raised bayonets, forcing demonstrators to retreat. The Guard then changed formation. As the Guard approached the crest of Blanket Hill, some Guardsmen turned toward the Taylor Hall parking lot and between 61 and 67 shots were fired. Four students were killed and nine wounded. That afternoon, University President Robert I. White ordered the University closed.
History, sorrow and healing remain a part of Kent State University. The University Library has dedicated a Memorial Room containing books, papers, studies, and other materials relating to the events. In addition, the University has established an academic program designed to help students and others employ peaceful conflict resolution to resolve disputes. On May 4, 1990, the University community dedicated a permanent memorial. Each year, the May 4 Task Force student organization holds a candlelight vigil and commemoration program to enable the University, the Kent community, and others to privately and publicly express their feelings. In observance of the 25th anniversary in 1995, a series of commemorative programs and events were held throughout the Spring Semester at Kent, highlighted by two-day scholarly symposium titled "Legacies of Protest" which examined political and civil unrest.
The University will continue to remember the four students who died -- Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder -- through scholarships in their names and in the words inscribed on the May 4 Memorial: "Inquire. Learn. Reflect." The Memorial site is next to Taylor Hall, on a hill overlooking the Commons, near the site of the shootings. Pamphlets are available at the site.
To learn more about annual commemorative activities on compus, such as the candlelight walk and vigil, please contact the May 4 Task Force student organization at (330) 672-3096.
For general information about the events of May 4, 1970, contact the May 4 Task Force, the Kent Alumni Association at (330) 672-KENT, or the Office of University News and Information at (330) 672-2727. You may also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.