Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer.
These are the four names every Kent State student hears during their “First Year Experience” course. Every freshman hears the story of May 4. They walk around the Visitors Center, see the memorabilia and watch the short documentary. But after that lesson, some students forget the names of the students who died close to their age, students who died during an attempt to make a difference.
Jeffrey, Allison, William and Sandra were figuring out life just like us. They attended classes they might not have liked, explored campus with friends, went to parties with cheap beer and shared late-night talks over bland dining hall food.
But on May 4, those four students were killed by members of the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University. The university they attended to get a headstart with their lives, to find themselves and believed was safe, became the place they never left.
Jeffrey, Allison, William and Sandra never attended another class. They never crossed campus again, made another appearance at a party or ate any more dining hall food. And they never walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.
While so many of us are busy with graduation preparations, we forget to think about those whose caps and gowns were never worn. For many, the Vietnam War was a war fought far away, only seen through staticky TV coverage.
But on that one May afternoon in 1970, the battlefield came to our backyard. Land normally used for learning and growth turned into a place of death and pain. Four people woke up in Kent on May 4 with the rest of their life ahead of them. Lives that were cut short by the smoke and haze of bullets fired by fellow Americans.
It’s been 49 years since the May 4 tragedy. Forty-nine years and we’re still here writing about its significance in not only Kent State history, but U.S. history. Kent State now often gets associated with “gun girl” or an infestation of black squirrels, but one thing has remained consistent in our history and campus-wide discussions: May 4, 1970.