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LYDIA COUTRE, KentNewsNet, November 3, 2009
Snyder, along with four other panelists, discussed the May 4th shooting at the Kent State University Kiva organized by the May 4th Task Force.
“The situation isn’t the same as it was in 1970,” said Alan Canfora, who was wounded by a National Guardsman on May 4th. “The antagonisms are gone. There’s still the need for the truth.”
“There’s a need for talking, for healing and for dialogue, and as a result I have no real antagonism toward (Snyder). I respect him. I think he has great courage coming here tonight,” Canfora said.
The panelists included Ron Snyder; Alan Canfora; Tim Moore, a Kent State freshman in 1970 and now associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Laura Davis, who witnessed the shooting and is now a professor of English; and Vietnam veteran Tom Saw.
Snyder, who fired no shots on May 4th, noted that the National Guardsmen were called to the campus and didn’t go there on their own, which he said some have misunderstood. He also said that by bringing the National Guard to campus, politicians are also partially responsible. “This is one of the problems with sending military personnel to deal with civil service,” Snyder said. “Before you send military to handle civilian protests, you really need to put the politicians’ feet to the fire, as the expression goes, because once they start the ball rolling, they don’t have any control over it.”
Moore said he appreciated Snyder coming to share his point of view. “I really feel that anyone in the military is for the most part going to follow the orders of the commander,” he said. “And so I hold no malice toward anyone in the National Guard. I’m glad that we’re finally getting his point of view because we need to know that.”
Learning more about different perspectives was the driving force behind the forum. The details of the Kent State Massacre are still greatly surrounded by mystery, Davis pointed out. “Ask questions. Continue to look for answers,” she said. “It’s still very much an unfinished story.”
Canfora encouraged the undertaking of an organized effort to uncover truths about the shooting. “One thing we’d like to see at Kent, whether it’s through a Truth Commission sponsored by the government or the community, would be to have the guardsmen and the students and all the eyewitnesses come together to testify about what happened,” he said. “Not for the purpose of jailing the guardsmen or punishing them at this late date, but just for the sake of the truth for the families of the dead and for the sake of history.”