Significance of historic site was never a question

DKS Editors

The site of the May 4 shootings at Kent State was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Tuesday.

The site was deemed so significant that the Register ignored the requirement that the historic event had to happen at least 50 years ago. Now the site will be on the Register in time for the 40th anniversary of the event.

In 2006, communications professor Carole Barbato, English professor Laura Davis, emeritus sociology professor Jerry Lewis and anthropology professor Mark Seeman wrote a proposal to get the site on the national list. They argued the significance of the shootings overwhelmed any age requirement.

“America knows about this. The world knows about this,” Davis told the Daily Kent Stater. “This is a story that marks an important turning point in American history.”

We agree, and apparently so did the National Park Service, which administers the Register. Before the announcement, Gov. Ted Strickland, Rep. Tim Ryan and the Kent State Board of Trustees endorsed the group’s efforts to nominate the site.

What happened on our campus in 1970 shook the university, the state and the nation.

When Ohio National Guardsmen killed four and wounded nine others, the whole world took notice. The rights of citizens to protest the policies of their own government, or even gather peacefully on public property, were being threatened in a way they had never been before.

The event led to a major student strike at hundreds of universities and colleges and further weakened public support for the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration’s policies toward protestors.

Recognizing how important the site was to American history is important, even if some would rather forget this brutal chapter. The lives of Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder deserve to be remembered.

Alumni, professors, students and others gather every year on May 4 to memorialize those who were killed. But the addition of the 17.24 acre site reminds us that the event’s significance can not be expressed in one day.

Any time you exercise freedom of speech, freedom of assembly or simply the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness, remember those four individuals were denied that right.

It’s almost impossible to determine what actually happened that day, but the basic fact is that four college students were killed by agents of their government seemingly at random. Remember that when you’re walking across campus the next sunny day.

Hopefully the addition of this site to the National Register of Historic Places reminds that the event was not just the one fact everyone knows about our university. It should remind us that not so long ago, a tragedy occurred that affected thousands, maybe millions of people worldwide.

It’s history, but it’s still alive.

We’re living with results of the event still today. It’s hard to imagine a time when Kent State, and the nation itself, won’t still be reflecting on that tragic day.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.