‘Today is part of of the healing process”

Melissa Dilley

VIEWphotos from yesterday’s commemoration.

John Powers, president of the May 4 Task Force, was the first person to address the crowd of hundreds that had gathered on the same hill National Guardsmen had marched on in 1970 for the 39th annual commemoration yesterday. He said people often ask him why his group continues to “glorify” the darkest day in Kent’s history.

Powers said the day is for the same people who ask the question.

Highlights from the May 4 commemoration:

“For 25 years I avoided talking to Mary Ann because I thought I had ruined her life.”

– photographer John Filo, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of Mary Ann Vecchio over Jeffrey Miller’s dead body.

“She inspired me to believe that the world can be changed by one person, just like you and me.”

– Laurel Krause, on her sister Allison Krause, one of the four students killed on May 4, 1970

“People have no idea how divided the times were and the political impact the slaying of four students had on this campus,” he said.

However, for many, the day isn’t about the speakers or the anti-war protest that follows the ceremony. Chic Canfora, sister of Alan Canfora, who was wounded on May 4, said it is about the reassurance the family members and friends of victims feel when they see everyone coming together to remember.

Survivors from May 4 found their places on the hill and near the Taylor Hall pagoda, not only to remember, but to heal.

Speaker Mary Ann Vecchio, who was the subject of John Filo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo from May 4, said the commemoration is only one step of many toward understanding.

“Today is part of the healing process,” she said

Laurel Krause, who spoke of behalf of her sister, Allison, who was killed on May 4, said while it is important to continue the tradition for members of the community who need to learn, it is also important for the families of the victims.

“Until we heal these wounds, they will continue festering,” she said.

Krause said she wants to know people see her sister as an inspiration and that she didn’t die in vain.

Krause is now an environmental activist on the Northern Coast of California. She attributes her courage to take a stand to her older sister.

Babette Gorman and Jack Buckingham are just a few of the many who attend commemorations and represent why it is important to continue remembering May 4.

Buckingham heard about the shootings when he was a freshman at Denison University in Granville in 1970. He said although he didn’t have a connection with the students or the university, the event changed his life.

“I had been conservative before, but it changed my perspectives,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think about a country that would allow our government to kill college kids.”

Buckingham and his partner Gorman have traveled from Columbus to Kent on May 4 for the last 10 years to remember and gain insight to what happened that day.

Gorman said over the last decade she has been inspired to be more actively involved in government because of speakers at the commemoration.

The crowd yesterday was filled with many like Buckingham and Gorman whose lives have changed as a result of the sacrifices made by those who stood up for what they believed in on May 4.

Others gathered in the Commons had their own way of remembering May 4. ROTC members held their annual “I Love America” barbecue near Engleman Hall.

“To us, it’s honestly a time to celebrate,” said Frank Phillips, a senior architecture major. He added that they are not trying to disrespect those participating in the commemoration ceremony; this was simply their own way of commemorating.

As the speakers told their stories, ROTC members played a football game and had a cookout at the bottom of the hill.

Laura Spehar, a freshman hospitality management major, said she came to the commemoration ceremony to learn more about the events of May 4, 1970.

“I could put myself in their (the speakers’) emotion and feel what they were feeling,” she said.

She said students have a lot to learn from those who spoke to become an activist in their community.

And for those like Alan Canfora, the commemoration ceremony is a way to make sure these issues aren’t forgotten.

He ended his speech by declaring, “Long live the May 4 movement for truth, justice and Kent State University.”

Contact student politics reporter Melissa Dilley at [email protected].