Only those with agendas, hippies care about May 4

Tony Cox's view

As I walked past the May 4 Memorial on my way to class one day last week, I noticed the groundskeepers making preparations for Kent State’s annual commemoration of the events that took place there in 1970. They were all chatting with one another, probably irritated at the rain, which was beginning to fall, but comforted as they thought about the sandwiches that waited for them in their lunch pails. None of the workers seemed to care about what they were doing — of course they were doing their jobs and doing them well. But that’s all it was for them: another job to be done.

Of course, this would probably cause grave offense to many who will swarm the Commons every May 4. Led by professional drama queens like Alan Canfora, they would probably be appalled that the groundskeepers were not weeping with every shovelful of mulch that they spread; that every scrape of the rake was a not cause for remembrance. Don’t these people realize that they’re treading on sacred ground? Don’t they know that this parking lot is more important than any church, that those granite slabs are more sacred than any cathedral altar?

So as the university prepares for what is sure to be another law-breaking, America-bashing, self-aggrandizing May 4 Commemoration, those of us in the university community should ask ourselves some important questions. No, not questions about who is to blame — nor about which conspiracy theory holds the most validity. The most important question that we should be asking ourselves about May 4, 2005, is this: Who cares anymore?

It’s true that the annual commemoration receives some media coverage, but that has more to do with the extracurricular activities of the protesters than with the actual commemoration itself. Honestly, who really cares enough about May 4 that we have to relive it over and over again every year?

Not the students, that’s for sure. Every year, I’m astonished at the staggeringly low student attendance at the event. It seems as though the only people who care about May 4 are a handful of washed-up hippies and a minuscule band of poorly groomed undergraduates who are using the university’s financial and historical resources to grandstand their radical political agenda. Instead of using their resources to commemorate the historical importance of the day and to remember the slain students, the May 4 Task Force transforms what is supposed to be a solemn memorial into a pep-rally for radical ideologues.

Don’t get me wrong, the events of May 4, 1970, were tragic in every sense. And true, when considered in their appropriate context, the shootings were a significant event in the history of the Vietnam Era. But with world-class programs in architecture, liquid crystal studies, fashion design/merchandising and nursing, along with a thriving student community and a brilliant cadre of professors, why do a small group of students and administrators allow a past tragedy to shape present and future perspectives on our university? Why do they insist on allowing the ghosts of May 4 to perpetually haunt Kent State?

Sure, on May 4, I’ll take a moment to inquire and reflect, a moment to remember, a moment to wonder how we can keep a similar tragedy from befalling us again.

But just a moment.

Tony Cox is a junior philosophy major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].