We all know this photograph. It has become the enduring image of the tragedy that happened 40 years ago today on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. I can still hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young singing, “This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio.”
Those four were 19-year-old Allison Krause, 20-year-old Jeffrey Miller, 20-year-old Sandy Scheuer and 19-year-old William Schroeder. Scheuer and Schroeder weren’t even protestors, they were just walking to their next classes, almost 400 feet away, when the guardsmen opened fire. Nine others were wounded; one of them permanently paralyzed from the chest down.
The university is holding a dedication ceremony of the May 4 historic site and opening a walking tour as part of their commemoration of the National Guard shootings. Speeches will be made, prayers will be offered, news reports will be written. But none will be more poignant than this remembrance written by the mother of one of the victims:
I was a 13-year old kid when Kent State happened; it didn’t make any sense to me then – why would our soldiers shoot students not a whole lot older than me? Now, 40 years later, I am the mother of college kids myself, and the tragedy is even harder for me to comprehend.