53rd annual candlelight vigil commemorates lives lost on May 4


Yasmeen Matthews

Leaders of the Kent State Candlelight Vigil holding four candles in honor of the lives lost May 4, 1970.

Jillian Flack, Reporter

Stars were not the only thing that lit up the sky of the Prentice parking lot last night: dozens of small white candles did as well. Illuminated by these flames, a memorial read four names: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder.

A crowd gathered at the student commons, bundled up in warm coats for the cold, to prepare for the 53rd annual candlelight vigil. The vigil remembers the lives of the four lost, nine injured and thousands affected by the Kent State shootings.

Sophia Swengel, freshman secretary of the May 4 Task Force, was at the vigil. She led the group through the silent walk alongside other members of the task force.

Candles are lined up outside of Taylor Hall May 3, 2023, after the annual Candle Vigil walk. (Kait Murray)

“As a freshman who was going through the vigil for the first time, it was a really beautiful and almost spiritual experience,” Swengel said. “It makes you in the end feel just really grateful that you’re able to be here and celebrate the lives that they may have been lost, but their spirits live on.”

The walk began at 11 p.m. in silence. The group proceeded through campus before gathering at the Prentice parking lot at about midnight, around where the shooting took place. At this time, the lot was lit up by candles to remember the lives lost.

Beginning at midnight, in the four memorial parking spaces, a person stood in its place. Each held a large candle. They would switch off with a different person in half-hour increments, each there to represent the life lost, for 12 hours.

Groups were gathered in the parking lot, remembering the events of May 4, 1970, as they looked upon the memorials and at the candles.

Participants in the Candlelight Walk circle campus with candles in hand before returning to Taylor Hall at the conclusion of the walk on the night of May 3, 2023. (Matthew Brown)

“It kind of helps you just keep your focus away from all the frivolous things that you have been nagging you throughout your day, and it makes you just consider the things that are actually important,” Swingel said.

Along with the task force, students, staff and other members of the community were there. Brennan Clay, a student, was there in support. He said it is important to commemorate and understand the events of May 4.

“People should be not only involved, but aware of why [it happened],” Clay said. “No, it’s not just for people who were killed here.”

Jillian Flack is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]