Good afternoon. I don't know how many of you are aware of this. Allison was planning on being here today. But, unfortunately, because of a prior engagement, she was unable to make it. So she sent me instead.
You see, thirty years ago on this very spot that we stand Allison Krause was engaged in exercising her right of free speech. And apparently, something that was said that day was so threatening to some people, that they decided...some even say conspired...to deny her the right to be here today and to deny us the pleasure of having her here today.
Now, I think we should make no mistake about it. What happened here thirty years ago had very little to do with rocks and bottles and snipers. It had everything to do with the right of free speech and the right of assembly and the suppression of those rights.
About a week after the the shooting Richard Nixon made a public statement in which he said, "When dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy." And I would like to suggest today what he probably mean to say is that when a government interferes with the free flow of ideas and when a government suppresses the right of its citizens to speak freely and to assemble peacefully, that government invites tragedy and in so doing it takes responsibility for any violence that might ensue.
I didn't come here today to lecture you about the politics of 1970. I 'm sure that before the day's over you are going to hear more on that subject than you care to hear, but you're not going to hear it from me. Instead I came here today to just take a few moments and share a few thoughts with you about this girl Allison Krause. I thought it would be appropriate on this day in particular and on this spot in particular to talk a little bit about what she was like when she was a student here and sat on this hill where you sit and walled these paths where you now stand.
And I was just told when I got here that this speaking schedule is a little bit tight and I should keep my comments brief. So the one or two stories that I had planned to tell you, I'm sorry to say, are going to have to wait for another time. [Shouts of NO! NO! NO! by the audience-Barry chuckles]
What I would like to do is take a moment to let you know that, if Allison were here today, she would thank all of you for being here, for sitting and for listening, those of you who organize, for organizing, and those who are here just participation, she would thank you for just being here. Your very presence here makes a very important statement, a statement that needs to be made this year and in following years, "That the world should never forget what happened here thirty years ago."
But I've got to tell you that if she was here she would also be reminding us of something else. And that is that we should not become too smug about these ceremonies and about these memorials and about these markers that have been erected. They are all very nice and they're very much appreciated.
But, if we're here to remember those things we need to also remember a few other things and that's the voice that I hear in my ear, of Allison telling me that Barry, "Remember that there's a man here today who hasn't walked for thirty years and, as far as I know, thirty years later, no one has taken responsiblity for that." And there are eight other men here today. [Applause] There are eight other men here today whose physical wounds may have healed, but clearly, they'll be carrying emotional scars for the rest of their lives. And as far as I know, to this date, thirty years later, no one has been held accountable for that!
And then there's Bill Schroeder and there's Sandy Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause. Four young people whose lives ended much, much, much too soon. And we all know that their tragic loss of life was unnecessary. It was unwarranted and it was inexcusable.
But the fact remains that thirty years later [A child wanders onto the stage and distracts Barry]. As we stand here thirty years later, the very men who took their lives, actually have been excused. So. if we're going to stand here today and we're going to ask the world to remember and never to forget the tragedy that occurred on May 4, 1970, I think we damn well better ask the world to remember and to never forget the tragedy that has occurred since that date. And the tragedy that has occurred since that date is the fact that nobody has been held accountable for what happened here thirty years ago.
They say that time heals all wounds and thirty years is a long time. Memories fade and wounds do heal. But this wound will never heal completely. And nor do I think that we should allow tie To heal completely until somebody stands up and is held accountable for the blood that spilled on this campus.
And if any of you are having difficulty who to nominate for that honor, I'd like to help you. In closing, I'd like to read you something that was written in honor of Allison and in her memory. It's a poem. It's based on a previous work by one of Allison's favorite contemporary American poets, Robert Zimmerman. It's called, "Who Killed Allison?", but when you hear it, you should know that it could have just as easily be called, "Who Killed Allison and Who Killed Bill and Who Killed Sandy and Who Killed Jeff?". And when you hear it, I'd like you to keep that in mind, And so I would like to read it for you now so that maybe you can hear her voice speaking out from this campus one last time.
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