Monday, May 4, 2009

An Anniversary at our Alma Mater: The May 4th Shootings at Kent State

Hubs and I attended the main campus of Kent State University. Hubs attended for 5 1/2 years and I did for 7. Long after having earned our Bachelor's degrees from our beloved university, every year we can't help but to think about the shootings of May 4th. I had architecture in Taylor Hall -- the building at the top of the hill. This is the building outside which all this happened. The Art building and Oscar Ritchie Hall -- where I took almost all of my art classes -- are at the bottom of the hill. Hubs and I walked through the memorial that was built, by the pagoda that had been shot and cut through the parking lot where students died. Our years at Kent State were very marked by this tragedy, even though neither one of us were alive when it happened.

To this day, it is still very sad.

I recall having started the university and knowing that this was a horrible tragedy. I read a book (I can't recall which one) that went in detail about the events surrounding the shootings. I'm sure that the book was skewed in a way, as I recall it only presented the students side.

I'm fully aware that there were two sides. There are so many things that happened that were wrong. The students were wrong. The National Guard was wrong. The whole thing should not have happened.

People argue that the students were being peaceful, yet they were told that because of the happenings of the previous days, they were not to assemble. They weren't even to be near the scheduled assembly site. From May 1 - May 3, 1970, downtown buildings had been damaged, the ROTC building was burned, rocks were lobbed at the fire department and God knows what else. The students were mad about the American invasion of Cambodia. They felt betrayed by Nixon. That still doesn't mean that they should have behaved badly.

Regarding the actual shootings, the National Guardsmen were brought in by Gov. Rhodes to maintain order after the City of Kent Mayor had declared an emergency asking Gov. Rhodes for help. One thing led to another and all 28 of the National Guardsmen turned around at once and started shooting. To this day, people insist that there was no command given, yet how do 28 people turn around at the same time and begin shooting simultaneously without command?

4 people were killed. 9 were injured. Lives were changed forever. Such sadness we need to remember. We needn't repeat it again.

1 comment:

Rach said...

The image of the young lady screaming is one of the most lasting for me from that day. I can see it in my mind, even now as I type this.

What a horrible tragedy it was. It is good to remember and reflect. We should learn and remember history so we DON'T repeat it.

Thank you for remembering.