May 4, 2016

Visiting the Site of the Kent State Shootings

May 4, 1970.
The sorrowful day when 4 college students at Kent State University 
in Ohio were shot to death by the Ohio National Guard.
Why this senseless act of violence?
They were unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War.
This event is now referred to as the "Kent State Massacre."

While visiting family in Ohio, I drove to Kent to see the site of the shootings
and to tour the May 4 Visitors Center, which opened in 2013.

The first section of the Center did a good job of illustrating 
the turbulent social climate and mood of the time.

The next area provided a detailed timeline of that day.

Recognized across the country, this photo, also shown above on a 
Newsweek magazine cover, was taken by John Filo. It won a Pulitzer Prize.

The final section of the Center focused on the aftermath of the event.

After touring the Visitors Center, I stopped at the May 4 Memorial, which features four granite pylons that "stand as mute sentinels to the force of violence and the memory of the four students killed."

I set out across the campus to insert myself into the location of the events.
This is the hillside and commons where the students gathered near the "Victory Bell."

In addition to the 4 students who were killed, 
9 were wounded, including one who became paralyzed.

The pagoda from where the Guardsmen fired into the parking lot.
(Also see the Visitor Center's photo above.)
It was very eerie to stand at this spot and see the shooters' perspective.

What confusion and fear those students must have felt to realize that
they were being targeting with live ammunition!
Such a horrifying experience.

The Solar Totem sculpture, (also seen to the left in the above photo)...

...and a close-up of the hole left by a stray bullet.

I spent a good bit of time in the parking lot. Such a somber place.
The actual spots where the victims fell are now marked off with posts. 
Their names are engraved in granite corner markers.

Here are my photos of each one, commemorating the lives
of the students who died on that very sad day. 

Jeffrey Miller
age 20

William Schroeder
age 19

Alison Krause
age 19

Sandra Scheuer
age 20

The emotion that washed over me was one of chilling trepidation. 
I, who had not long ago traipsed through a similar campus for 4 years, 
and whose children are now college students,
had a difficult time shaking that weighty sense of grief.

Perhaps we aren't meant to shake it.

More information can be found here:
May 4 Visitors Center
The History of May 4

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