Testimony for Bill Schroeder
May 4, 2001
Kent State University
Good Afternoon and a special greeting to the families of the victims of May 4, 1970.
Kent State loves and respects you and it is in that spirit of affection that I reflect on
Bill Schroeder. There is not much I need to say because Bill's life, death, and martyrdom
say it all. So it is for us, the living, to honor his sacrifice and celebrate his life.
Bill, like all of us, was born in a country that is really two countries. For America has
always been a Tale of Two Cities. That first city, the city of light, contains some of the
most profound ideas in the history of the planet. One cannot read the Declaration of
Independence, the Constitution, or the Gettysburg. Address without having an appreciation
for our high ideals as a people. It was in this city that Bill Schroeder of Lorain, Ohio
William Knox Schroeder was born July 20,1950 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His !family included
father, Lou, mother, Florence, brother, Lou, Jr.,, and sister, Nancy. His first hero as a
3 year old growing up was Tanto, the Lone Ranger's friend. He developed an interest and
love for Native American culture.The family moved to Lorain. His school years
consisted of him being the Captain of the School Safety Patrol, participating in band, and
playing on the football and basketball teams. He had an A- average in high school. At KSU,
he had a 3.28 grade point average. He had a ROTC scholarship and was often the top student
in his military science classes. Despite being in ROTC, he was opposed to the Vietnam War.
No summary of Bill would be complete without mentioning his love of the Rolling Stones. He
thought they were the greatest rock and roll band of all time. His neighborhood in
Lorain was quite familiar with the stones music, like it or not.
No one knew Bill better than his mom. Listen to what she had to say about Bill's life's
journey: "His life is reflected in the rainbows in the mornings and the stars at
night. In the butterflies and the flowers and all the beauty of the earth. I know that
heaven has meant an access to all truth for him. He was always eager to learn and he
pressed more into his short life time, than others do in a fourscore life. He would have
contributed so much to the quality of life in this great country. I pray that his death
served as a cornerstone for a new mortality." Thank you Mrs. Schroeder for your
courage and your forgiving heart.
Yet, there was a second City, the city of darkness. The city that brought us the
Boston Massacre, Wounded Knee, the Homestead Strike, Sacco and Vanzetti, and the
Rosenbergs. This was also the city of the 1968 Chicago police riot, Orangeburg, and
Jackson State, and this city of darkness one day came to a place called Kent State.
On that day, which is this day, Bill Schroeder, who had as an Army ROTC student, pledged
to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States was called by
history to honor that pledge in a time, place, and manner that he could have never
foreseen. For you see my friends, in that first city a revolutionary idea had been born.
The belief that the rights of human kind can not come from generosity of the state, but
from the people, The people that Jefferson wrote about in Philadelphia. The people that
are mentioned in the Constitution. The people Lincoln talked about at Gettysburg. The
Constitution said that those people had the right of freedom of worship. The freedom of
speech, and the freedom to assembly, and for those freedoms and values history made Bill
Schroeder, a player in a drama, and he ended up giving all he had to give.
Thirty one times we have paused to remember that day, May 4, 1970. When an ill trained and
ill lead Ohio National Guard turned the Prentice Hall parking lot into a killing
field. That event, that took four of our very own and wounded nine others, also wounded
our spirit as a University community.
As we come here to the first May 4th in the new century, we need to honor the sacrifice of
Bill, Jeff, Sandy, and Allison and to heal our wounded spirit. Whenever we take actions to
turn that city of darkness into the city of light. Whenever we seek to turn as a country
our good words into good deeds. Whenever we strive to live out the ideals reflected in
that first city by working to have a more perfect union. In short, when we seek to make
that city of darkness part of that city of light, then we are about the work that Bill
Schroeder was about. When we get involved in issues larger than ourselves. We heal our
So on this May 4th, let us resolve to work to turn our country into one city, a city of
light. The healing effect of that will be greater than we can ever imagine, and in being
about that noble work, we honor Bill Schroeder, we honor our University, and maybe most
importantly, we honor ourselves.
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