Transcribed by Lisa Whalen
April 18, 1997
My name is Todd Sanders, and I am twenty three years old. I have grown up in Northeastern Ohio all my life. I grew up, I guess, in Northeastern Ohio. Obviously, I was only three years old when the -- when the shootings took place. When I was growing up, I didn't know that much about the Vietnam War and all the shootings that went on, at Jackson State and at Kent State. Since I've come to Kent though, I've gotten more of a -- an appreciation for what went on, especially everything thats going on this year. All the -- the dedication of the memorial, and everything thats taken place, thats been done, has really helped me get as much of an -- a genuine understanding, or a feeling for what the times existed as, in 1970. And, I guess the thing that I've learned from -- from becoming more aware of the shootings and stuff like that, is that the people -- people today don't understand what the protesting was all about. And I guess -- myself, I'm a history major, and I'm -- when I study my history, I like to know what things caused events to happen in the past. And I try to look at events both past and present, to try and see if they're gonna foretell anything in the future.
And my roommate and I were talking today, and I guess the thing that -- the first memorial that was built, that is now at Princeton University; that sculpture, 'Abraham and Isaac'. What we thought was unique about that was, one: we wondered why it wasn't here at Kent State, and why people didn't originally want it here. Two: we were trying to understand why it was Abraham and Isaac. And when we looked at Abraham and Isaac, Abraham was gonna sacrifice his son, Isaac, for God; to prove his love for God. And to use that as a model for the shootings at Kent State, doesn't really seem accurate to me, because I think the students who died, did so, not out of love or anything like that. They died out of, in my opinion, a -- a sign of what's happening in the world today. And a lot of people have given up on love in a sense, and in a way, are almost walking around with their eyes open and their ears open, yet not being able to see or hear anything, and experience anything.
Myself as a twenty three year old, who has a future ahead of me, unless something like this doesn't happen again, or happens again. I think it's important to help people understand how events such as May 4th, just a whole slew -- everywhere you look there are things going on. And how these things say that people need to work together. And people need to have a compassion for others, whether or not people agree. And to dedicate a memorial to the shootings, saying that the people that died, died for a cause and a sacrifice, in my opinion, is rediculous. There should have been no reason why the four students died, and I think this is just the beginning of giving an understanding of what the shootings were about. I think it's prude, and I think it's sick, that people think it's all right, and blame the students for being shot. It has nothing to do with the students, and it's always the innocent people that get hurt in situations like that. People -- people need to be aware of the fact that innocent people do get hurt.
Today the homeless situation, whats going to happen -- I always wonder whats going to happen with the homelessness in the next twenty years? People blame the homeless for being in the situation they're in, and I know for a fact,because I lived with the homeless; I was homeless for five days on an experience, over spring vacation this year, on the near west side of Cleveland. But these people are -- their environments -- their circumstances that they are experiencing, are more a sign of the govrnment and policy in the country. And it needs -- people need to see that. If things are going to get better, people have to work together and pull together from all walks of society, from all different -- from all different races and religions, and see people as people. I think I'm naive for wanting that, but I myself though, in my lifetime, am going to work towards that. Too many innocent people, too many that don't deserve to have terrible things happen to them, are getting caught in these things, making a plea for humanity. It's a big sacrifice. Millions and millions of people are being sacrificed.
The four people that were killed at Kent State, individually, it's tragic. But in the whole spin of things, they're just a small percentage of people who are making sacrifices for what they believe in. And -- and people need to do that. Someone once said, "If you don't have a belief, or you don't believe strongly in something, that you're lost." And if someone believes strongly in something, there's no reason they should ever fear anything. And I think these four students that -- that died, believed strongly in what they were doing. And I'm sure if they were around today, that they would want to tell people that they hope that we see the point to their dying, and their giving up their lives, even though theydidn't realize it was gonna happen. If they didn't feel the cause was worthy enough to go out and protest, they wouldn't have been out there. They would have been mindless people, like in Orwell's 1984. And I think we have to look at them for what they did, and what they believed in, and be able to apply that same determination they had, to experiences in our life, and to events that are going to happen in our lifetime. And I -- I think that that's what we should learn about. We should never forget what happened. Because these people had to be some of the most caring and loving people ever.
And if you guys are up in heaven and are seeing all this stuff, I hope that you realize that your passing away for what you believed in, does serve a purpose. And know that there are people working to try and correct things -- that carry on your beliefs, to help the world become a safer, more paeceful and more loving place.
And thank you for this opportunity to voice my opinion.