Sunday, October 30, 2016

Education Day

Both of us are proud not only of our own education but of some of the valuable educational institutions that influenced our desire to obtain our advanced degrees.  

Kathy had wanted to visit Notre Dame University.  She had been influenced by the movie Rudy.  It was one of her dad's favorite movies that they watched together each holiday season.  It is the real life story of a janitor who not only got to attend Notre Dame University but also got to play on the legendary football team, The Fighting Irish.  This heartfelt story, plus the fact that her Dad was fond of the school, motivated her to want to see the Notre Dame football field and campus so  Southbend, Indiana became a destination. 

We found a Walmart parking lot, disconnected the jeep and drove to campus.  It was summer so we were able to drive around the campus,  including the football field.  Each entrance gate is named for famous Notre Dame coaches.  We parked at the campus store and information center and rode our bicycles across campus and walked inside the Main Building, one of the most recognized campus buildings.  We gave ourselves a tour to appreciate the architecture and the history.  We saw the beautiful art work and even the Rosary Crown, which was designed to be placed on the golden statue on top of the building. The crown was so beautiful that they decided it needed to stay inside and was never put on the statue.

Another campus with history we wanted to get more in touch with was Kent State. Four hours east of Notre Dame and across the Ohio state line it was our next destination. Growing up during the Vietnam era, Joy had heard about the Kent State Massacre and had always wanted to see the campus which survived such violence as a response to peaceful protest.  

By accident we pulled in and parked the RV and Jeep next to the parking lot where the four students had died during the May 4th, 1970 shooting.  Immediately we were connected to the event. The locations where the students fell were marked by iron posts and their names carved into brick pavers.  This area used by students daily before and since the shootings made us reflect not only on our own mortality but on the lives of those lost and what they could have been had they lived.  

Next we walked up to the student building where the museum is.  The building reminded me of the student union at my own alma mater, Bemidji State University.  The front side of this building faces the knoll where the Victory Bell stands - the same bell that had witnessed the riots the days before the shootings. We learned the protests were not entirely peaceful as some students had looted local business and started fires, which is why the National Guardsmen were called in, eventually coming over the knoll and firing tear gas to disperse the protesters. After retreating back down the hill, they fired their rifles wildly into the air before they fired at students in the parking lot.  

A total of 67 shots were fired in 13 seconds. Four students: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder, were killed. Sandra and William had not been involved in the riots or protests at all - they were simply on their way to class.  Nine other students were injured, one of whom was permanently paralyzed.  None of the soldiers were ever held responsible for their actions.  

Kathy and I were greatly moved and highly encourage others to visit and learn more about this piece of history.   We'd like to think that a similar incident wouldn't happen today - but we're not that naive. 

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