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Kent State Remembers Dead, Wounded 30 Years After National Guard Shooting

Aired May 4, 2000 - 1:20 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Today marks the 30th anniversary of a defining moment in the U.S. anti-Vietnam War movement. It was on this day in 1970 Ohio National Guard troops fired on students following days of protests and the burning of the Kent State University ROTC building. Four people were killed, nine others wounded.

Today, events are being held on the school's campus to commemorate the shooting, and CNN's Ed Garsten is there -- Ed.

ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, 30 years certainly hasn't dulled the emotions or the memories of what happened here 30 years ago today, May 4, 1970. Several hundred people have gathered below me on the commons where the confrontation began between the student demonstrators and the National Guard on that day. They're listening to speeches and testimonials during a special memorial for the four students who died.

The ceremony began at exactly 12:24 Eastern time. That's the time the shots rang out. The ceremony began with a ringing of the Victory Bell.

The bell is rung 15 times, one ring each for the four students who died, nine rings for the students who were wounded, and also two rings for two student who died 10 days later at Jackson State University in Mississippi when police fired on demonstrators there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE LEWIS, SHOOTING VICTIM: Real healing can only come with the truth. And that's why, months ago, the mothers of the victims here, the mothers of our martyrs, made an appeal to the National Guardsmen: Come forward and finally tell who gave the order to shoot at Kent State. And I think once we have that information, that's when the healing process will really take place.

ALAN CANFORA, SHOOTING VICTIM: I have forgiven the men who deliberately shot me, but I can't forgive anyone who killed a young person that day. I feel very, very powerful emotions here today and I think that the emotional burden, combined with the fact that we don't know the truth of -- about why this happened to us, that's what's taken so long.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GARSTEN: That was Alan Canfora and Joe Lewis, two of the students who were wounded. For the first time in those 30 years, all nine students who were wounded were together here on the Kent State University campus, an emotional experience, indeed.

You're looking now at a live picture of the memorial. We have heard from family members, we have heard from friends of those who were killed and those who were wounded. Anger in their voices even after these 30 years, they said, to this day no one has taken responsibility for the shootings and they want to know the truth, and they want someone to step forward and tell exactly why these shootings happened.

I must tell you, Lou, that for present-day students here on the Kent State campus, many of them are not participating in these ceremonies today. We spoke with some -- even though the newspaper, of course, has a commemorative edition -- we spoke to some who said, you know what? We're not going to take part in this. We're simply tired of going to the school where people say to us, oh, you go to the school where the students were shot -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Ed Garsten in Kent, Ohio today.

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