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Akron Beacon Journal, May 5, 2007

Anniversary of May 4, 1970, shootings a time for many to think of war in Iraq

Peaceful march ends memorial

By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer

The annual commemoration of the 1970 Kent State University shootings Friday was as much about the Iraq war as it was about what happened nearly four decades ago on this Portage County campus.

The 37th anniversary of the shootings included remarks by one of the most outspoken opponents of the Iraq war -- the mother of a soldier killed there -- and concluded with a peaceful anti-war march downtown by about 200 people chanting anti-war slogans and carrying signs.

While several hundred gathered for the official commemoration, a group of students -- many of them Army ROTC cadets -- met at a nearby dormitory for the second annual We Love America Barbecue.

The day's activities were in memory of the four students killed and nine wounded when Ohio Army National Guardsmen fired on a group of Vietnam War protesters.

The victory bell, which is rung each year to commemorate the Kent State deaths, was rung an additional 32 times Friday in memory of those who died at Virginia Tech in April.

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, mother of Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, 24, who was killed in in Iraq in 2004, called for a ``new revolution of activism'' during her appearance at the May 4 commemoration.

``I wish college students cared enough about what's going on in Iraq and our country to be as committed as the students were in 1970,'' Sheehan said in an interview before her remarks.

Sheehan, 49, who was 12 years old when the Kent State shootings occurred, said she was not active against the war until her son was killed.

During her speech, she said, ``We need to remember May 4th all over the world, not just here in Ohio.''

She called for the impeachment and imprisonment of officials in the administration of President George W. Bush, and said the push against the war in Iraq ``has to be a peace movement.''

She visited the site where the four students were killed 37 years ago and was overcome with emotion as she told the crowd she would like to someday see the spot in Sadr City in Baghdad where her son was killed by an insurgent's bullet.

On display at the university's commons were boots representing 161 Ohioans who have died in Iraq.

Wes and Julie Emch of Brimfield Township, parents of Navy Hospitalman Lucas ``Luke'' Emch, who was killed in March, embraced over the boots representing their son.

Rosemary Palmer of Cleveland, mother of Marine Lance Cpl. Edward August ``Augie'' Schroeder II, killed in 2005, also spoke.

She told the crowd that she and her husband, Paul Schroeder, knew when they learned of their son's death that they should take on the mission to express what their son had said: The war ``is not worth the cost.''

Freshman nursing student Kara Kear, 19, of Toledo, studied on the commons in the morning sunshine before the rally.

``It's important to be involved with May 4th activities and to remember all the people whose lives were lost,'' she said. There aren't enough people of her generation ``who would do what they did.''

At the same time as the memorial service, more than 30 students gathered at nearby Engleman Hall for their own event. Many were Army ROTC students. They displayed American flags and grilled food in a party atmosphere.

``We feel the commemoration has become over-political and it's become an activist event,'' said Joel Newborn, a 21-year-old junior ROTC cadet from Lisbon, Ohio.

The group held a moment of silence for the victims of the Kent State shootings at the beginning of their party.

Elias Chelala, 23, of Lakewood, who will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army this month, said the dormitory party was designed to show support for troops and the victims of May 4 ``and to have a good time... Weare here 'cause we love our country, our school and the Army.''