On a 2 1/2-acre wooded site overlooking the University’s commons, the May 4 Memorial commemorates the events of May 4, 1970, when four students were killed and nine were wounded during an anti-war protest on the campus.

The design by Chicago architect Bruno Ast was developed from a concept submitted to the University’s National Design Competition in 1986.

Constructed of carnelian granite, the memorial is surrounded by 58,175 daffodils, the number of the country’s losses in Vietnam.

A plaza measuring 70 feet wide is bound by a granite walkway that merges with the sidewalk winding from residence halls to the heart of the academic campus.

The plaza extends onto the hillside by 22 feet, ending in a jagged, abstract border symbolic of disruptions and the conflict of ideas. Its fractured edge suggests the tearing of the fabric of society.

A granite wall built along the entry defines the plaza as a significant gathering area. The wall is representative of both shelter and conflict.

Engraved in the plaza’s stone threshold are the words Inquire, Learn, Reflect. The inscription, according to the university, affirms the intent that the memorial site provide visitors an opportunity to inquire into the many reasons and purposes of the events, to encourage a learning process, and to reflect on how differences may be resolved peacefully.

A progression of four polished black granite disks embedded in the earth lead from the plaza to four free-standing pylons aligned on the hill. The disks reflect our own image as we stand on them; the pylons stand as mute sentinels to the force of violence and the memory of the four students killed.

A fifth disk placed to the south acknowledges the many victims of the event. It implies a much wider impact, one that stretched far beyond the Kent Campus.

A 48-foot bench along the granite walkway provides visitors a place to rest and to view the memorial.

On January 11, 2017 the site was declared a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior. There is also a small visitors center on campus, and a self-guided walking tour is available.

During the 2021 May 4 Commemoration, Kent State unveiled new bronze markers to honor the nine students who were wounded by gunfire on May 4, 1970, and to designate their location on the site during the tragic incident.

The markers, which are 11 inches in diameter and recessed in limestone bases, identify the locations where the nine students were wounded when the Ohio National Guard opened fire. The nine wounded students were: Alan Canfora, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Dean Kahler, Joseph Lewis, Donald Mackenzie, James Russell, Robert Stamps and Douglas Wrentmore. Similar markers for the four students who were killed — Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder — were installed in 1999. The number refers to the distance each student was standing in relation to the National Guard.

Gotta get down to it | Soldiers are gunning us down | Should have been done long ago | What if you knew her and | Found her dead on the ground? | How can you run when you know?

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