KSU: Director Oliver Stone helps commemorate 43rd anniversary of the Kent State University shootings

KENT, Ohio - Talking about the Kent State University shootings, Film Director Oliver Stone along with PBS Anchor Gwen Ifill helped dedicate the May 4 Visitors Center as the latest addition to Kent State's memorial, honoring the four students killed when National Guardsmen opened fire on campus May 4, 1970, 43-years-ago Saturday.

"They died for a reason," said Stone inside KSU's Taylor Hall.

PBS' Gwen Ifill, speaking to the impact KSU had on the world said, "It was surprising to people and that's why people spent so much time searching for evidence of, you know radicals and communists and infiltration because they couldn't believe that this was happening here. And because of that, that was more proof than ever that the tide was turning on public attitudes toward the war."

"The memory about that war, the Vietnam war, is essential to understand our position in the world today," said Stone after walking through the May 4 Visitors Center.  He slowly looked over the photos and closely watched videos after touring the parking lot where four marked rectangles note the location of each student when they were killed.

Stone served as an Infantry Man and made several films surrounding the Vietnam War, a significant time in history he noted, isn't always reflected in history books.

"I see mention of the contention and the dissension, but I'm not so sure that I see some of the dirty story, the dirty politics that was going on behind the scenes," Stone said.

At the campus' outside memorial, people, some students there the day of the shooting, walked around taking a moment to remember each student killed and the nine others injured.

Mark Kaufman told NewsChannel5 he both served in the Vietnam War and was on his way to the Kent demonstrations when he described seeing people run from the campus and yell of a shooting. 

"There's a lot of emotional baggage connected with it and it's not easy to come to this," said Kaufman.

And the reach of Kent was much further than the college town, Rona Boumphrey who was in England at the time said, "It was the first time that I was really aware of so much student uproar against the the Vietnam War, which I was against too and it was just horrifying."

While the outside memorials allow you to physically see what happened, inside the May 4 Visitor Center gives you a different experience, allowing visitors to understand and see the bigger picture: what the United States was going through at the time and how events in Kent, Ohio change so many lives.

"When unarmed forces are killed by our own military, it was time to take action," said Quentin Paul Kuntz, who told NewsChannel5, he refused induction into the U.S. military after being drafted in 1971.

Kuntz said, "The events of this day will forever be in my heart and that's why I brought Rhiannon (daughter) here, brought my son before -- my son Dylan, so they understand that freedom is not free and these need events need to be remembered."
 

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