KENT -- Homecoming weekend at Kent State University included a solemn event amid the usual festivities and football.
Kent opened its May 4 Visitors Center. It's an attempt to put the tragic May 4, 1970 shooting of four students in some historical perspective. An anti-war protest lead to 13 seconds of gunfire from National Guardsmen.
Center organizers say it's about truth, not blame.
Center Director Laura Davis, a 1970 student now English professor says, "The exhibit is based on the best documented facts we have to date...Lots of different voices and views let visitors draw their own conclusions."
The $1.1 million center was five years coming together. Donations came from the public and veterans' groups, the National Endowment for the Humanities and all 16 Kent State deans.
The multimedia exhibit includes a minute-by-minute video of the events leading up to the deadly gunfire.
It puts the event in context with the various causes, including antiwar protests against Vietnam and Cambodia, the civil rights movement, women's crusades and the generation gap.
Those personally touched by the shooting praised its opening. Nine students were wounded.
Wounded student Alan Canfora says, "There are many people coming to this historic site and they didn't know what happened...Now they'll understand ..how it all fits together."
Wounded student Dean Kahler says, "It gives you a sense of the tension underlying things...Kids today, all they see are the movies and books about the 60's and 70's and it's all glamorized. It's all Hollywood....It's something that needs to be talked about and brought forward. These four rooms deal with that."
Admission to the Center in Room 101 of Taylor Hall on the Kent State campus is free.
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