Kent State honors Virginia Tech dead, and their own
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 5, 2007
KENT, Ohio - Campus tragedies separated by more than a generation linked Kent State and Virginia Tech universities on Friday, as students on the Ohio campus marked the shooting deaths 37 years apart.
A bell on the campus of Kent State - rung each year to mark the Ohio National Guard shooting deaths of four students during antiwar protests on May 4, 1970 - first rang out 32 times to honor victims slain April 16 at Virginia Tech by a rampaging gunman.
"I choked up. It's an emotional thing, " said senior Sarah Lund-Goldstein, who is part of the campus group that organized the commemoration. "We feel it's very important to understand that a grieving campus is not just one from 37 years ago."
At the midday ceremony, a crowd of 200 to 300 sat on a sun-drenched, grassy hillside and heard speakers memorialize the Kent State students.
Mary Ann Vecchio, 51, of Miami, the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo showing her with arms outstretched over the body of shooting victim Jeffrey Miller, told the gathering her experience that day will always be with her.
"Time has passed. Time goes on. We miss you here today, " she said, invoking Miller's memory.
Other speakers sought to connect the protests of the Vietnam War then with opposition to the war in Iraq now.
Kent State student John Behnken, 21, expressed concern for soldiers in Iraq. "We're sending them there, and when they come back we're not taking care of them, " he said.
"It's kind of like Vietnam all over again."
The ceremony came days after a survivor of the Kent State shootings, Alan Canfora, said that an analysis of static-filled audio from the 1970 campus shootings revealed a military order to open fire. It has long been a mystery what prompted the 13 seconds of gunfire.
FBI investigators said they could only speculate whether an order had been given to fire. One theory was that a guardsman panicked or fired intentionally at a student and that others fired when they heard the shot.