Candlelight vigil honors May 4 victims

The Kent Stater Pittsburgh native Keith Pennington stands in the memorial place of William Schroeder while a by stander kneels at the edge during the May 4th Candle Light Vigil and Walk through campus on Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

The annual candlelight vigil remembering May 4 victims Jeffery Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer began at 11 p.m. yesterday and continued throughout the night and early morning. 

To begin the vigil, the Victory Bell was rung and Jerry Lewis, emeritus professor of sociology at Kent State and an eyewitness of the shooting, gave a speech. 

Lewis led the march around campus, ending in the Prentice Hall parking lot. The candlelight vigil began after the march, where four people held a candle at the spaces where the four victims were killed. 

Every half hour, four people would relieve the previous people, “keeping the victims’ flames alive the entire night, along with their memories,” said Alyssa Gage, a  May 4 Task Force secretary.

The candlelight vigil started in 1971 as a “remembrance for the victims killed by the National Guard during a protest in opposition to the Vietnam War on May 4, 1970, as well as the students killed in a similar protest at Jackson State (University) a few days later,”  Gage.   

Angella Bishop is from South Carolina and was 15 years old when May 4 took place. She attended the vigil last night for the first time because she said she is very interested in accountability and justice for the May 4 shooting.

Bishop also came to honor the lives lost, but especially Allison Krause because “she was my hero and I appreciate everything she did,” Bishop said. “I think she died for what she believed in and I think a lot of people need to know that.”

Born in the late ’60s, Bishop has always been against war and feels people need to be concerned about the protection of the protestors and not let an incident like May 4 happen again.  

Jackie Schmauch, integrated language arts major attended the vigil and said “I think it means a lot to the people who were there at the time of the shooting to know that people now still care and we aren’t forgetting about it and its still affect us.”

“In high school you learn about the May 4 events, but being here and walking though the path, the troops took and where they shot, is a completely different experience,” said Lindsay Humienny, theater studies major and attendee of the vigil.  

Ashley Lamatrice, a freshman communication studies major, attended the vigil because, “I was looking forward to (commemorating) May 4 properly because my parents grew up in the ‘70s and (my) aunt was a Kent State student during the time of the shootings.”

Kennedy Shelton, an early childhood education major and attendee of the vigil, believes May 4 is an event that should be recognized.

“(We should) appreciate that there are people who wanted to protest and fight against the war and we should remember them for that,” said she said.

The May 4 Task Force not only organized the vigil, but also the commemoration that will take place at noon today. The organization contacted numerous speakers to speak on issues and events that have parallels to the May 4 events, as well as four speakers to give a speech about the victims killed.

In 1975, the May 4 Task Force was created by Alan Canfora, Robbie Stamps and Dean Kahler, who were Kent State students and survivors of the shooting.

According to the May 4 Task Force website, its purpose is “to raise the level of awareness of student, faculty and the general public about the May 1970 shootings and the history of subsequent events.”

Samantha Meisenburg is the veteran affairs reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].