May 4 is now part of your history

Tim Magaw

Credit: DKS Editors

“Don’t get shot.”

Chances are that’s something you heard after you told someone you were going to Kent State.

After all, this campus isn’t just known for its invention of the liquid crystal or for some of its most famous drops-outs, including Drew Carey and Joe Walsh. It’s the May 4, 1970, shootings that have molded the Kent State legacy.

The extent of what you’ll learn about May 4 in your first few weeks on campus will probably consist of watching a 47-minute documentary on the shootings, maybe followed by a brief discussion in your orientation class.

But don’t let it stop there.

The amount of information available about May 4 is so wide-ranging that it would be ignorant to base your entire understanding of the shootings on that short film. If you Google “Kent State,” you’ll get numerous hits, most of which deal with the shootings. There are also hundreds of valuable resources available in the University Library, especially in the Special Collections and Archives. There’s even an entire course available during the spring semester devoted to understanding the shootings.

But despite the stacks of research out there, scores of students still don’t care about or have a severely misguided understanding of one of the most pivotal events of the Vietnam era. Instead, many see the recess on May 4 as a time to catch up on that much-needed suntan or hit up the bars early.

Some students are downright heartless.

At last May’s commemoration, for example, groups of students gathered on top of Engleman Hall to hold a “We Love America” barbecue while the commemoration took place. As they stood with red party cups in hand, many yelled while chomping on hamburgers. Some even blew air horns as speakers addressed the crowd on the Commons.

I even know someone who walked around campus with a National Rifle Association hat atop his head.

What many of these students fail to realize is that those who died were just as young as we are. They too once had to get used to the campus. They too walked the same sidewalks. They too once debated skipping class. They too probably hated parking on this campus. They too held copies of the Daily Kent Stater.

Allison Krause, who was shot in the chest, was 19 years old.

Jeff Miller, who was shot in the mouth, was 20 years old.

Sandy Scheuer, who was shot in the neck on her way to class, was 20 years old.

Bill Schroeder, who was shot in the back on his way to class, was 19 years old.

They too were once new to Kent State.

So before you mutter, “They should have shot more” or take part in the next “We Love America” barbecue or even let your eyes glaze over at the mention of May 4, look a little deeper into the events.

As students of Kent State and even as citizens of the United States, it’s imperative that you make an effort to understand that fateful day.

May 4 is part of Kent State’s history. And now that you’re part of Kent State, May 4 is part of yours.

Tim Magaw is a junior newspaper journalism major and editor of the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].