Peace talks

Kelly Pickerel

Sheehan asks students to combat war through non-violent means


Cindy Sheehan, keynote speaker at the 37th annual May 4 Commemoration, speaks about losing her son, who was killed in action in Iraq.

Credit: Adam Griffiths

On May 4, 1970, 12-year-old Cindy Sheehan could not understand why the National Guard killed four students at Kent State.

“I remember the photos from here,” Sheehan said Friday to a crowd gathered on Blanket Hill. “I couldn’t understand why our people would kill our own.”

Sheehan, now a nationally known anti-war activist, was the keynote speaker for the 37th annual May 4 Commemoration.

This year’s program, “Truth: The First Casualty of War,” featured several speakers, including those wounded at Kent State and a witness to the Jackson State University shootings.

“I thought Cindy told the truth about everything,” said Amanda Orin, freshman communication studies major. “The U.S. needs to pull out of Iraq.”

Sheehan’s son Casey was killed during his service in Iraq in 2004. Since then, Sheehan has protested the war and the U.S. government, most notably in 2005 when she camped outside President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch for five weeks.

In her speech, Sheehan highlighted similarities between the Bush administration and the Nixon administration of the 1970s.

“I’m for impeachment,” she said. “But I don’t want to stop there. I want to imprison those people this time.”

Sheehan said she couldn’t believe the “randomness of violence” that happened 37 years ago. In addition to her speech, she also participated in this year’s commemoration events, standing in on Allison Krause’s candlelight memorial.

Seeing the memorials and the spots where the students were shot, she said, made her want to travel to Baghdad to see where her son died.

Sheehan described her son as a brave, honorable young man who was “killed by a coward who was dishonorable.”

She had never been to a war protest before her son was killed. Now a leading national activist, Sheehan calls for a peaceful way to end fighting.

“We need to work for peace,” she said. “Anti-war movements aren’t working. This has to be a peace movement.”

A majority of the crowd voiced its agreement with Sheehan’s words, including sophomore broadcast journalism major Ashleigh Klinger.

“The speech was really moving, especially when she described her son and how she got really emotional,” Klinger said.

Trey Kauffman, junior marketing major, agreed.

“She was probably the only speaker that gave it to us on a personal level,” he said. “I mean, she lost a son.”

Sheehan finished her speech by recalling a Buddhist quote that says every person dies twice – once when the body dies and again when the last person who remembers that person dies.

She then recited the names of the four students killed at Kent State – Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder – along with her own son’s name and fellow speaker Rosemary Palmer’s son Augie, also killed in Iraq.

“We won’t forget,” Sheehan said. “They will live forever.”

Contact news correspondent Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].