Kent community commemorates May 4 with procession and vigil

Katie Nix

Kent State students, alumni, faculty and community members gathered at 11 p.m. on Friday to participate in an annual candlelight procession around campus to honor May 4 and the victims, ending with a vigil at the place of the shootings.

“The tradition of the walk it for it to be done in silence,” said Professor Jerry Lewis, who started the procession in 1971, the year after the shooting, after ringing the Victory Bell once to begin the procession. “Peace and love.”

“We Remember Them”

“In the rising of the sun and its going down,

We Remember Them.

In the bowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

We Remember Them.

In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,

We Remember Them.

In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,

We Remember Them.

In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

We Remember Them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

We Remember Them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,

We Remember Them.

When we are lost and sick of heart,

We Remember Them.

When we have joys and special celebration we yearn to share,

We Remember Them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are a part of us.

We Remember Them.

-From the Jewish Book of Prayer

The procession, led by four members of the May 4 Task Force each holding a candle in remembrance for the victims, continued down the Kent State Commons and around Front Campus, down Hilltop Drive, then Main Street, in front of the Music and Speech Building, then Prentice Hall before ending in the parking lot where the four victims were shot and killed. A member of the May 4 Task Force stood in their places until 12:24 p.m. on Saturday, the time of the shootings.

“We say the kaddish prayer at the end of the march not just because Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller were Jewish but because it is an affirmation of God and shows that we are grateful for life and wisdom,” said Faith Barnett, alumna class of 1977 and marshall of the procession, due to health issues not allowing Professor Jerry Lewis to participate.

“We still say the prayer for William Schroeder because even though he was not Jewish he still needs blessed,” Barnett said. The “Our Father” prayer was also said at the vigil.

Rocks were placed on the cement lanterns that mark the places where the four students were killed in accordance with a Jewish tradition that says flowers will pass on but rocks are here for eternity.

“That was something I didn’t know and really appreciated learning,” said Brandon Boling, sophomore sociology major.

Boling said he believes it is important to keep having events like the procession and vigil so that way awareness can be raised about what happened at Kent State so it doesn’t happen again.

Bob Barnett said he also feels the same way and as an alumnus in the class of 1972, he was there the day of the shootings.

“I was walking to the bookstore to get more supplies for an art project and it was a beautiful day,” Barnett said. “You never would have known what was going to happen. The next thing I know I have an M-1 and bayonet shoved in my face.”

Barnett said he would describe the experience as surreal and something he usually does not like to talk about.

“You can’t explain the terror, the horror, the tragedy of the time. It was like a war zone,” Barnett said.

Barnett said he attends the procession every year and hope that it keeps the memory alive and engages a new generation so that way the story never dies and something like May 4 never happens again.

The last line in a poem from the Jewish Book of Prayer, which was handed out at the vigil, read: “So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are a part of us. We Remember Them.”

Contact Katie Nix at [email protected].