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Sandra Scheueur's cornerstone

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Guests seated at Dedication.
Includes from L>R, (leaning forward) Jack Krause (Allison's uncle) and his wife, Doris Krause (Allison's mother), and her sister (?), Sarah Scheueur, (Sandra's mother), Elaine Holstein (Jeffrey's mother) and her husband, Artie.

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Wendy Semon of the May 4 Task Force lays flowers on Allison's memorial.

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Jeffrey Miller's cornerstone

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Dr. Carole Barbato

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Allison Krause's cornerstone

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Family of Allison Krause

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Jack Krause and wife talking to Rabbi who reads Kadish at annual May 3 Vigil

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William Schroeder's cornerstone

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Guests congregate on Parking Lot

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Kim Larson of May 4 Task Force

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Troy Gregorino-Touve of May 4 Task Force

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All above photos by
Kendra Lee Hicks

The dedication of the parking lot markers/memorials to the four students murdered by national guardsmen at Kent State University while protesting the war in Vietnam in 1970 finally took place on September 8. Kent State University, after years of allowing cars to be parked on the ground where Allison, Sandy, Jeffrey and Bill were gunned down, capitulated to popular demands and did the right thing. (See the history of the Prentice Parking Lot Controversy)


I will quote from the program brochure distributed at the event:

Today, the Kent State University community dedicates individual markers in remembrance of Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder.

The Areas where the students lost their lives have been designated in an annual candlelight vigil on each May 3 and 4 since 1971. In 1998, the May 4 Task Force student organization requested that the university identify these four areas in the parking lot with permanent markers. Installation of the markers was based on a recommendation from a university wide committee, with the concurrence of the families of the four students. The Kent State University Board of Trustees authorized the installation in January 1999.

As we dedicate these markers, we recommit ourselves to honor the memory of May 4, 1970, by strengthening Kent State's unique commitment to inquire, learn and reflect on nonviolence, democratic values and the promotion of civil society.

It sounds nice enough. It doesn't call the 4 students terrorists or brown shirts or the worst elements we harbor in America as the state of Ohio did in the 70s. It doesn't tell us that we should forget about what happened in May of 1970 as the University did in 1975 when it wanted to forgo annual commemorations. It doesn't mention how the university has tried over the past 30 years to rewrite the history of what happened that day. It doesn't even mention WHY our brothers and sisters were murdered on this campus. In fact the entire dedication ceremony conveniently omitted ANY references to the war in Vietnam and what happened on May 4, 1970 on the Kent State University campus.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad the memorials were built. I am glad the University has joined the May 4 Family and the world in mourning the deaths of 4 young people and lamenting in the lives that were wasted that day. I am glad that we remember Allison, Sandra, Jeffrey and Bill as human beings and not merrily statistics from a distant historical era.

Although I was not present for the ceremony, Kendra was. (Accompanying photos are by Kendra.) She was personally moved by what she witnessed. May 4 Task Force members were an integral part of the script, four of them giving short testimony to each of the four students and four others placing flowers at each spot to the accompaniment of violin selections by Bach and Schubert.  Family members of slain students present   as invited guests were Doris Krause, Allison's mother, Jack Krause, Allison's uncle, and his wife;  Sarah Scheueur, Sandra's mother; and Elaine Holstein, Jeffrey Miller's mother.Only two of the students wounded on May 4, 1970 were present, Tom Grace and Alan Canfora. (Some of us wonder why the University scheduled the dedication on a weekday and in the morning.) Also present were  other long time members of the May 4 Family (Dr. Gregory Payne and Susie Erenrich authors of books on May 4, 1970-Link to resource page for more book info.). Such a gathering cannot but evoke emotions of tearful joy to have come so far over the past 30 and still be Family.

Additional testimony was given by Dr. Jerry M. Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at KSU and a witness to the murders of 1970,  Dr. Carole A. Barbato, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at KSU, Dr. Thomas R. Hensley, Professor of Political Science at KSU, and University President Carol Cartwright. Although each speech was generous in its treatment of the four students there was no mention of the context that surrounded their untimely deaths. In fact, each presentation by  May 4 Task Force members was scripted by Kent State University's News and Information department. This department has been instrumental in the past in disseminating propaganda and lies about the May 4 Task Force and others who have tried to promote the truth about May, 1970.

Kendra and I viewed the local news coverage on the ceremony that evening. The press went a little further in including some context and the public was witness to some important facts about May 4, 1970. The construction of the markers now makes it obvious to visitors to KSU that the distance between the National Guard and the protesting students does not lend any crediblity to the Guard's contention that their lives were in danger.  Dr. Gregory Payne author of Mayday-Kent State, said in an interview "I think for one who comes and looks down from the Pagoda [where the guard fired from] to these spots [where the students were shot], you can see that if you had a brick, if you had a rock, if you had a pebble, if you were the best pitcher in major league baseball, there's no way you could even reach that Pagoda let alone hurt anyone there." Alan Canfora, a student wounded at Kent State by the National Guard on May 4, 1970 and who has been instrumental for the past 30 years in actively seeking the truth about what happened that day, addressed another point, "I think we'll never really have true healing until we learn the full truth about Kent State. And we need one or more of the guardsmen to come forward and finally tell the true story about Kent State." Alan stated that he no longer felt any personal hostility towards the guardsmen who fired at him that day. However he stated, " I blame the the commanding officers. I blame [Ohio] Governor Rhodes and President Nixon. These are the real people responsible for the tragedy at Kent State, not the trigger men."


Another local station, Channel 5, WEWS out of Cleveland took a rather different approach to the dedication ceremony. Rather then sending anyone  to Kent for the ceremony or interviewing any of the wounded students or relatives of those who were murdered,WEWS decided to interview   former National Guardsman, Larry Shafer, who was on duty at Kent State on May 4,  1970. Larry and WEWS take the position that the wounded and murdered were merely "victims of circumstance"  and creatures of "fate" and that "everybody was a victim" including the Guard. By the way, Larry Shafer fired his gun that day and wounded KSU student Joseph Lewis who was 50 feet from him (and the closest student in the Guard's line of fire) for giving him the finger.

Most coverage mentioned the fact that the National Guard did the shooting that day (unlike the dedication ceremony) and one station even mentioned that the students were protesting the Vietnam War (unlike the dedication ceremony).

Let's get real Kent State and the media!!!  Students at Kent State were murdered because they were protesting  a murderous, immoral and illegal war perpetuated by their government which eventually took over 2 million lives! How could fail to mention this? An academic institution whose goals should be the pursuit of truth and a media which prides itself as being democratic?

The Anti-war movement of the 60s and 70s was a profoundly pivotal historical era for the United States. Americans have finally come to the conclusion that our government committed grievous wrongs. Few people still believe the Vietnam War was just. However, the war machine that mutilated Southeast Asia from 1945 till 1975 still exists in our country today. We can learn valuable lessons from studying that war   and the movement that protested it (of which Kent State is a major symbol) and apply them to the wars our government waged in the 1980s and 1990s and will certainly wage in the new millennium.

When it comes to asserting American power over the globe, President Clinton is no different than former Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. The antagonists have changed as has the rhetoric and the means of waging war have changed, but the needless violence persists. The true power in this country lies with the powerful not you or I. The powerful wage war in our name but not in our interests. Millions more have been slaughtered  in Central America, Iraq, Yugoslavia, and East Timor since Vietnam in  pursuit of U.S. political and economic domination.

Kent State, 1970 needs to be remembered, not just because of the violence, or just because four young innocent people never had a chance to fulfil their destinies, but because it is such a telling symbol of what needs to be done in this country to stop the madness.

May 4, 2000 is rapidly approaching. The May 4 Task Force will hold it's annual commemoration on that day. There is a certain mystique that surrounds "the year 2000" and this being the 30th May 4 commemoration can provide an opportunity for progressive activists throughout the country to reassert their place in the political scheme of American life.We must not forget WHY our brothers and sisters were killed at Kent State and Jackson State and we must not allow the institutions that support war to interpret OUR history. For this year's schedule link below on May 4, 2000.
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Mike and Kendra encourage anyone to comment on our web site, whether you agree with us or not. Link to our Public Forum Page

Header graphic by Mike Pacifico containing b&w photo by John Filo and memorial photo by Mike Pacifico

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