We started the month thinking about different ways to celebrate May and our questions on memorial is especially acute today as we reflect on May Fourth.
May 4th means many things to many people.
Closer to home, May 4, 2015 is the 45th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. The Ohio National Guard fired into crowd of unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War. In particular, the students were responding to President Nixon’s announcement of expanded U.S. military operations into Cambodia. Reportedly firing 67 rounds within 20 seconds, the shooting exacerbated national discussions on the role of the U.S. in the Vietnam War. The May 4 Visitors Center continues to honor the legacy of the shooting, student protests, and the war in general.
On a global scale, many honor the student activism that launched the May Fourth Movement in China. On May 4, 1919, between 3,000-5,000 university students marched into Tiananmen Square to protest the terms of the Versailles Peace Conference ending WWI. Although the transfer of China’s Shandong Province from German to Japanese rule served as the catalyst for the demonstration, the May Fourth Movement advocated for a new Chinese culture that challenged traditional Confucianism by emphasizing such ideas as democracy, patriotism, and anti-imperialism. A current retrospective at the National Art Museum celebrates one of the intellectuals who lead this social revolution that many consider the most important in China’s History.
Finally, May 4th is so monumental it even supersedes regional and national boundaries. Today is in fact, Star Wars Day and however you may choose to recognize the historical significance of this day – or any other day for that matter – we simply say:
“May the Fourth Be With You”