Silent march commemorates fallen students

Jessica Rothschuh

Tealight candles glowed in flowered Dixie cups held in the hands of the crowd. Near the Liberty Bell, young women in hoodies stood with linked arms.

About 200 people gathered at 11 last night at the bottom of Blanket Hill to begin the annual candlelight march to commemorate May 4, 1970.

Puffs of breath rose into the frigid night air, but those gathered spoke warmly with one another until someone asked for silence. The march is traditionally silent.

President Carol Cartwright stood in the crowd with her candle.

“It is the 15th year for me to do the candlelight walk,” Cartwright said. “I think it’s important to remember.”

Cartwright said she likes the silence because all are able to be engaged in their own way.

The march began, and silence fell over the crowd as it headed toward the Auditorium. A couple in patchwork coats walked together through the brisk wind laced with the scent of burning and blown-out candles. A group of young men stood together, passing a lit candle around to relight those the wind had extinguished.

The march was organized by the May 4 Task Force. The members of the group and their guests kept vigil overnight beside the markers where the four students were shot.

Task Force co-chair Taryn Leggett grew up listening to her mother tell the story of May 4, 1970.

“I was just enthralled with the stories,” Leggett said, and her interest spurred her to join the Task Force as a freshman.

She attended the vigil last year, but this was her first candlelight march.

“You kind of almost feel connected to the students who were killed,” Leggett explained about the vigil.

The procession wound around the front of campus, heading east down Main Street. A woman carried a berry-scented Glade candle, the scent wafting through the crowd. Another held a candle in a decorated Mason jar.

“The legacy of Kent State is in May 4,” said Adria Crannell, a member of the task force.

Photos of the four students killed on May 4, 1970, were pinned to a lavender crocheted sweater. They fluttered as the march continued under the flowering trees in front of White Hall. It turned onto Horning Road and passed the Music and Speech Building.

Security guards and police officers stood on the sidewalk as the walk continued between Prentice and Dunbar halls. Those with candles raised them into the air as they entered the parking lot and gathered around the markers under a tree aglow with rainbow-colored makeshift candle lanterns.

The Mourner’s Kaddish and the Lord’s Prayer were read, and stones were placed at each of the markers. Jews place stones on gravesites instead of flowers because flowers die, so Hillel donated stones for everyone to use.

As the prayers ended, a gentle rain began to fall and the vigil began.

Contact student politics reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].