Hi. I guess to really start
this story, I've got to tell you just a little bit about myself.
When Kent State happened when I was eight, I don't really remember much about it, except thinking, "Well. That's pretty typical with this country. If you stand up for yourself, you get shot. What else is new?" I and my classmates were talking more about the shooting of Richard Diner by his father on Long Island.
We watched the Symbionese Liberation Army's house being torched live on TV and went through Watergate. And it really wasn't until 1977 when I begin to read and hear about what was going on here and the efforts to move the gym, that I began to have a real consciousness of what had happened here in 1970.
So I graduate high school. I head to college and land at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro only to have the massacre of the Communist Workers Party happen close to my campus in 1979. And from there on for the next couple of years, I'll have to say that my life kind of just spiraled down. And by the time I was the ripe old age of nineteen my mottoes were basically 'kill yourself before somebody else does' and 'die young and make a beautiful corpse.'
Well I was nineteen I was in a lighting class one day and this new student showed up. He was a little older student. He was finishing up his bachelor's so he could go to graduate school. And as we went round robin through the classroom, introducing ourselves, he mentioned that his name was Ron Law. He had been a theater student at Kent State University.
Of course, the first question out of everybody's mouth was "Were you there?" And he said, "Yes, I was." And was very reluctant to discuss [it] any further. But I came to find out later, that that was the very first class that he had been back into since the shootings happened in 1970. And it had taken him ten years to do that.
I had the fortunate ability to work with him the following year in a production of "Moon Children" which is set at Brandeis University in 1968. And it was while we were researching for that role that Ron actually came forward and talked about his experiences here at Kent. And he talked about his friend Sandy Scheuer and looking for her that day in the parking lot.
Well, as that show finished, he came up to me. He gave me a hug and there was something in that hug that he gave me that made me think there's something more I'm supposed to find out about Kent State. So the following Fall I was very surprised when a graduate student by the name of Milo Hunter turns up at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro saying that he is going to direct a production of "Kent State: A Requiem." I was sitting at another audition at the time and came across this book on Kent State that he had with him, opened up the page and my words first fell to this reading. And it's a eulogy by Richard Torotsky from John F. Kennedy high school in Silver Springs, Maryland. And it went like this:
Then, the next thing that I read in this book was an account written by Barry Levine. At which he was walking up, on the front part of campus. He came across a guardsman on the afternoon of May 3. He came across this guardsman who had a lilac stuck in the gun barrel of his M-1 rifle. And as they were talking, chit chatting with this guard, his superior officer came up and asked him why he had that flower in his gun barrel and ordered him to remove it. Well, Allison took the flower and as the officer was walking away, she shouted out after him, "Whats the matter with peace? Flowers are better then bullets."
And it was at that moment that I knew [that] I have got to meet this person. So I started researching and fortunately I did. I won the role of Allison Krause.
And I was in a performance in Greensboro in November of 1982. And the Task Force, at that time, invited us to bring the show up here to be performed on May 3 in 1983 for the 13th commemoration. And so we did. We made the journey up. And we performed the show. And it was one of the most phenomenal experiences, an emotional experience, to walk these hallowed grounds and to be introduced into this wonderful collective of people that we've all become, to know, as the Kent State Family.
And looking back on those seven months, and those seven months that I symbolically walked side by side with Allison Krause, were seven of the happiest seven months in my life.
She taught me that it was okay to live and that it was okay to love. So, in a symbolic way Allison gave my life back to me. And as I continue to live, not to love and not to enjoy my life would make a mockery of the memory of her life.
Allison had a favorite song and it was called "Close to it All" by Melanie. And I'll quote these lines.
(Actually, Kendra sings the lines.)
I f you will take this simple request and carry it with you into your life, I believe that we can safely say that Allison did not die in vain.
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