Bill Schroeder died twenty-seven years ago today. He left this world seven years before I entered it. I never knew him.
I won't stand up here today and list all of his awards and achievements because you know them. I won't tell you what a great person he was because you know that too. And I won't tell you what the world lost when it lost Bill Schroeder because we can't know that.
When that bullet entered Bill Schroeder's ribs, a new consciousness entered into the world. The antiwar movement had reached a pinnacle and society sat upon the thresholds of chaos or reconciliation. Neither one has ever arrived. Today we still stand at that point, somewhere between right and wrong, and like Bill, we are still trying to figure out why there is an in-between. For what justification exists for death, for poverty, for oppression and for destruction?
Bill's blood still runs in the soil here in Kent. The blood of a lover, of the joker, of the student and of the peaceful warrior. And, although I will never get the opportunity to speak to Bill Schroeder in person, his spirit talks to me. On sleepless nights in confused times when I find myself wandering around outside of Taylor Hall looking for the same answers that Bill looked for, I study the nature surrounding me. I look into the trees, which house families of birds to the grass, which does grow greener over there and to the wind that still carries his breath. Bill's spirit is alive in the life that keeps watch over the killing ground by the Pagoda. A spirit that is free. It is free of war now. It is free of hatred. It is free of the past and it is free of the future. I shall reserve the inflammatory rhetoric spewed by diseased politicians for the sewers in which they belong.
Bill still wore his uniform with pride. With the pride of being a free man in a free land. And he held his head high and his smile wide twenty-seven years ago. Bill believed in defending his country and he always believed that his country would defend him. But what defense is there when no offense exists?
The purpose of my speech was to be how Bill Schroeder has affected my life. There are now words for the emotions that Bill has influenced in me and you and the person sitting next to you and I'll try to convey them. In an article that I read, one of Bill's friends said, "He told us once he wanted to be a writer." He'd been writing poetry for the past few years but he'd always hide it. Now I don't know where his notebooks may have ended up, but his poetry is no longer hidden. It shows itself to us each spring when the daffodils bloom on Blanket Hill. It is on each blade of grass hat sparkles with fresh dew beneath the morning sun. You can find it each time you are in front of Taylor Hall and a gentle breeze caresses your cheeks. It is in every song that the birds in their nests sing to each other and to us. Bill, your poetry is here today. It is glowing in every one of us who have come to remember those who fell by angry bullets twenty-seven spring rains ago. Bill your poetry is alive in you. You are the author of eternity.
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