Kent State Memorial Day

Kent State Memorial Day

May 4
When students at Kent State University in Ohio decided to hold a rally to protest the incursion of U.S. military forces into Cambodia during the Vietnam War, no one thought it would end in a national tragedy or that it would mark a turning point in public opinion about the war. But when the Ohio National Guard started firing indiscriminately at the crowd, four Kent State students were killed and nine were wounded—one of whom was paralyzed from the waist down. The next year, three students were convicted on rioting charges, but the eight guardsmen involved in the tragic incident were never tried. A lawsuit brought by the parents of the slain and wounded students ended in an out-of-court settlement.
A candlelight vigil takes place at the Kent State campus every year on May 4, the anniversary of the 1970 shootings. It begins at midnight on May 3, when a candlelight procession winds its way around the campus and stops in a parking lot near the university's Prentice Hall. There, for the next 12 hours, rotating teams of sentinels stand in the places where Allison Krause, Sandy Scheuer, Bill Schroeder, and Jeff Miller were killed. The vigil is coordinated by the May 4 Task Force, a group led by a Kent State graduate and dedicated to promoting campus awareness and preventing a repetition of the violence.
Although the university refused to discuss the tragedy for 10 years after it occurred, nowadays it is commemorated openly—to the point where the May 4 Memorial is featured prominently in the college catalog and a course is offered on "May 4th and Its Aftermath." There are four permanent scholarships named for the dead.
CONTACTS:
Kent State University
108 Michael Schwartz Ctr.
P.O. Box 5190
Kent, OH 44242
330-672-3000; fax: 330-672-4836
www.kent.edu
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 77
(c)
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