Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A moment of silence

Moving to Kent, Ohio, means that May 4th will never be the same. This year is the 40th anniversary of the infamous shootings. The site has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and campus has been over-run with media and alumni. There have been plenty of memorials, peace rallies, and other recognitions of the tragic events.

There hasn't been much music, though. So often, we recognize tragedy with moments of silence. Our response to such pain and loss is complicated and difficult. Many memorials in recent years have involved listing the names of victims, tolling bells, or speeches. Concerts and sing-alongs have been notably absent.

I wonder if a politically correct desire not to offend people of diverse religions has precluded many of the hymns of comfort. But musicians have responded to so many events with music - I will never forget the first time I heard "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima," for example. The silence that follows music is even more profound and more comforting than an artificial moment of silence, in my opinion.

I've been trying to think of the hymn or music that would be appropriate for May 4th, and the best suggestion I've thought of is MacDowell's Requiem, which uses the text of Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," rather than the typical Latin mass. But perhaps that doesn't properly capture the turmoil of the period. Anyone have a better suggestion? In the meantime, please observe a moment of music and a moment of silence to ponder the implication of May 4th for civil discourse and peace among us all.


  1. Rev. Robert FerroMay 5, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Those of us who were not at Kent State 40 years ago can't fully comprehend the tragedy of that day. May those who were there, or whose loved ones were there, continue to remind us of what happened, so that it does not happen again.

  2. "Ohio" by Neil Young is one of those songs that captures a moment in time, I think, similar to the "Hiroshima" piece. Another would be "Music for Prague" by Husa