Fallen students memorialized

Shelley Blundell

Allison was a feisty honors student who didn’t want to be known only as a “brain.” Bill had visions of winning a Pulitzer for his poetry some day. Jeffrey was a staunch activist for civil rights from the age of 8.

And Sandra, a quiet girl from Youngstown, loved lilacs.

Although these four students shared a passion for human rights, their fates were leading them down very different paths.

Until those paths crossed fatally on May 4, 1970.

Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder, Jeffrey Miller and Sandra Scheuer were the four students killed during the May 4, 1970, protest against America’s invasion of Cambodia.

While their lives ended that day, their memories have prevailed for 35 years.

M. J. Lunine, dean of the Honors College at Kent State in 1970, said this of Krause after her funeral:

“Allison was a radical — if being young and bright and warm is radical.

“Allison was radical — if having a sense of justice and a sense of honor and a sense of humor is radical.

“Allison was radical — if having an open mind and a great thirst for all kinds of ideas and opinions and points of view is radical.

“Allison was radical — if being full of love and full of life is radical.

“My God, may we all be so radical.”

In a letter to J. Gregory Payne, Florence Schroeder said this about her son, Bill:

“Our children can only react to life’s situations as they have been trained to think before they react. I do not feel guilty, and do not feel that I contributed to Bill’s death in any way. I am proud that he made the decision to be a part of the activity that day, and that he did not hide his true feelings about war in Vietnam.”

And in a poem written for Florence on Mother’s Day, 1969, Schroeder wrote:

“Days gone by shall never return, despite the most reverent of prayers. It is not all in vain — I shall certainly learn from my previous conflicts and errors.”

At the age of 16, Miller wrote a poem that would echo through his death on May 4, 1970. Following is an excerpt from the poem, titled “Where Does It End?”

“A teenager from a small Ohio farm clutches his side in pain / and as he feels his life ebbing away, he too asks why — / why is he dying here, thousands of miles from home, / giving his life for those who did not even ask his help?

“The War Without a Purpose marches on relentlessly, / not stopping to mourn for its dead, / content to wait for its end. / But all the frightened parents who still have their songs fear that / the end is not in sight.”

And all who knew Scheuer described her as a quiet, non-assuming student with a passion for helping others. She chose to pursue this passion through a major in speech therapy, using her own talents to help others find theirs. Scheuer was not participating in the protest; rather, she was walking to class and was caught in the crossfire of National Guardsmen.

“She was alive and overwhelmed by the greatness of her existence,” friend Marty Levick said.

And no matter where they are this May 4, may the prevailing memory of Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder, Jeffrey Miller and Sandra Scheuer allow us all to inquire, learn and reflect.

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected].