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The May 4 Memorial is built on a two-and-one-half acre site. A granite plaza, measuring 70 feet wide, rests on the crest of the wooded hillside adjacent to Taylor Hall overlooking the Commons. Bound by a granite sidewalk and bench to the east; to the north, a series of four black granite disks lead from the plaza into the wooded area where four free-standing pylons are aligned on the hill. The serene memorial built in the natural setting of the hillside commemorates the events of May 4, 1970, when four students were killed and nine were wounded during an antiwar protest on the Kent State University campus
Engraved on a plaque near the sidewalk north of the memorial are the names of the four students killed and nine wounded on May 4, 1970. The plaque reads, "In loving memory of: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder. Respectfully remembered: Alan Canfora, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Dean Kahler, Joseph Lewis, Donald McKenzie, James Russell, Robert Stamps and Douglas Wrentmore."
Engraved in the stone floor where visitors step onto the plaza are the words "Inquire, Learn, Reflect."
The words inscribed in the May 4 Memorial, "Inquire, Learn, Reflect," were first used in 1984 when the May 4 Memorial Committee, established by President Michael Schwartz and the Kent State University Board of Trustees, decided a memorial should be built. The committee emphasized that the site should present visitors with the opportunity to inquire into the many reasons and purposes of the events that led to the killing and wounding of students on May 4, 1970, and to encourage a learning process to broaden the perspective of these events. The site should encourage visitors to ask what differences were confronting this community and this nation at that time and to reflect on how those differences may have been resolved peacefully.
Bruno Ast, an architect from Chicago, designed the May 4 Memorial. Born in Yugoslavia in 1949, Ast became an American citizen in 1955. He earned his undergraduate and master's degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ast has lived in Chicago since 1963, is co-owner of the architectural firm Ast and Dagdelen, and is also a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has taught since 1969. The other member of the team submitting the design is Thomas S. Rasmussen, who works for Ast and Dagdelen.
Dedication, groundbreaking dates
The May 4 Memorial was dedicated May 4, 1990.
Groundbreaking for the May 4 Memorial was January 25, 1989.
The May 4 Memorial is surrounded by 58,175 daffodils to symbolize those U.S. servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. The suggestion for planting daffodils, which bloom each spring prior to May 4, came from Brinsley Tyrrell, professor of art at Kent State University.