41st anniversary of May 4 commemoration

Caitlin Restelli

Rain may have moved the 41st May 4 commemoration inside, but it did not keep people away.

Nearly 500 students, faculty, community members and others from across the country filled the Student Center Ballroom Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the events that took place 41 years ago.

Keynote speaker, Stuart Allen, a forensics audio expert, said, “Something has to speak for these four young lives, and the evidence speaks very loudly as long as we can listen to the evidence.”

Allen recently discovered a military order to fire on an audiotape that recorded the May 4 events. Allen also heard four .38-caliber gun shots fired 70 seconds prior to the military order.

“Kent State has been the most important work of my life,” Allen said. “The deeper I go into it, the more I’m discovering.”

Bruce Hyland of Chicago, came to Kent State because he has a few friends who were wounded that day.

Hyland said he did not attend Kent State, but met his friends through political campaigns in later years.

“I think (Allen’s evidence is) very compelling,” Hyland said. “As I think probably more work is done with it maybe there’s more to be found out.”

Randy Gardner, a May 4 witness and survivor of the recent Tucson shootings, spoke to the audience about the two events he witnessed in his lifetime.

At the Tucson shootings, Gardner said three people died in front of him and three people died behind him.

After being shot in the foot, he went outside where the cars were parked.

“I saw people dodging and running behind these cars and I thought ‘wow I’ve seen that before,’” Gardner said, referring to what he witnessed 40 years earlier at Kent State.

“We tolerate this violence in America to a point that is just unacceptable,” Gardner said.

Beth Vild, senior English major, said this was the ninth commemoration she has attended. Vild’s brother came to Kent State before she did, and she said her and her mother traveled to Kent to support her brother.

Vild said she was disappointed that the commemoration was held inside and during finals week but still thought it was good.

“I feel they still have the same messages of social change and social justice,” Vild said.

Hyland said he has been to 10 to 15 previous commemorations and thought this year’s commemoration was just as good.

“I think every one I’ve been to has something different to offer and every time I come over here I learn something new,” Hyland said. “It’s an ongoing process that seems to never stop.”

Caitlin Restelli is the student politics reporter.