Memorial situation saddening

Justin Stine

To this day, only 7 percent of the May 4 Memorial exists on campus, and there are no plans for the remaining 93 percent to be completed.

This quote was taken from a brochure about the memorial: “The paving pattern symbolizes the 13 persons directly affected by the May 4, 1970 event … The sheared wall piece is transposed upon the landscape as a pylon, suggesting the wider impact of these events on the social, physical and psychological fabric of our society.”

That’s not what I think of when I see what’s out there today.

In 1985, the university announced that a memorial design competition was to be held and a budget of $200,000 was available for construction. Entries were accepted for months, and 698 entries were received. Because of the number of entries, this turned out to be the second-largest design competition in American history.

In July 1986, the winner of the design competition was chosen. The university and the Kent State Board of Trustees decided on the entry submitted by Chicago architect Bruno Ast and approved construction of the memorial at a projected cost of $1.3 million.

The American Legion quickly stepped in, calling the future memorial a “memorial to terrorists.” Because of this pressure, the university did not hire a fund-raising committee, nor did they advertise, promote or hold fund-raising campaigns to raise the money.

On Nov. 15, 1988, the university announced that the original design, which was chosen and approved at a cost of $1.3 million, would be scaled down to 7 percent and the budget for the construction would be reduced to $100,000. The university rejected an offer from the May 4 Task Force to help raise money.

In addition to the uncompleted memorial, Kent State also announced the May 4 Memorial would no longer be dedicated to the memory of Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder, who lost their lives here in 1970. It would simply “memorialize the events of May 1970.” Not even the names of the four students killed would be included. It was decided that only the words “Inquire, Learn, Reflect” would be engraved on the May 4 Memorial. The memorial was not even built until 1990.

At the time, Kent State President Michael Schwartz faced extreme pressure as the dedication grew closer. Just days before the ceremony, Schwartz agreed to include a plaque with the names of the four slain students. This can be found in the Prentice Hall parking lot and not where the constructed memorial is located.

In addition, Schwartz was forced to grant scholarships in the names of the four students killed on May 4, something he had promised to do 12 years earlier. These four scholarships cover full in-state tuition, room and board.

In addition to the granite memorial, there are 58,175 daffodils planted on the hill behind the memorial which leads down the Victory Bell in the Commons. These daffodils are symbolic of the number of American casualties during the Vietnam War.

Justin Stine is an electronic media productions major, the treasurer of the May 4 Task Force and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].