‘It’s a Beautiful Event to Honor Everything They’ve Done for Us’

Students, veterans, staffers and other volunteers assist in maintaining Kent State’s living memorial to Vietnam veterans

Under the ground, near the May 4 Memorial on Kent State University's Kent Campus, lie thousands of bulbs, planted to honor the 58,175 U.S. service members who died in the Vietnam War. The project was conceived by Kent State Professor Emeritus Brinsley Tyrrell, as a complement to the May 4 Memorial and a way to honor those fallen veterans.

Members of the grounds crew from University Facilities Management led the planting efforts.

The grounds crew from Kent State University Facilities Maintenance cares for the site year-round. But starting last year, Kent State Grounds Manager Rebekkah Berryhill began the tradition of inviting veterans and anyone else who wished to participate in planting daffodil bulbs as part of the university’s Veterans Day Commemoration. Berryhill said that her team’s goal is to plant about 3,000 bulbs this fall, to bloom in the spring.

Kent State's "Super Fan" visited the site to help plant bulbs.

Kent State Athletic's No. 1 supporter, "Super Fan" Heather Strittmatter planted a few bulbs

A Reflection of Kent State's Core Values

The daffodil bulb planting offers an opportunity for members of Kent State to come together as a community, to honor veterans and reflect on the tragic events of May 4 and how they resonate in today’s world.

It’s also a very literal “grassroots” demonstration of the university’s commitment to its core values of respect, kindness and the peaceful exchange of ideas. It is particularly meaningful that this community event takes place on the site that changed history and forged these core values. These are the values that provide the foundation of Kent State’s internationally lauded work in healing divided communities with peaceful conflict resolution.

A Kent State University ROTC cadet shovels dirt where a new daffodil bulb is planted.

‘We Appreciate the Opportunity to be Able to Help’

Kent State Air Force ROTC Cadet Kenny Strait and his fellow cadets were part of Kent State’s Veterans Day Commemoration ceremonies on the Student Green. Afterward, he and some other cadets, sophomore nursing major Caden Roberts from Galion, Ohio and senior business major Aniliss Woodford from Puerto Rico, came to Daffodil Hill to assist in the planting. Strait, who is a senior physics major from Massilon, Ohio, said, “I think this a great opportunity to honor the veterans who gave their lives, both those who are with us and formerly with us. It's a beautiful event to honor everything they've done for us, and we appreciate the opportunity to be able to help.

A group of Kent State University ROTC cadets carrying shovels and daffodil bulbs walk past the Victory Bell on the Commons, which is part of the historic May 4 site.

Photos by Bob Christy, senior photography coordinator, University Communications and Marketing. Video introduction by Gracie Ford, a sophomore digital production major from North Canton.

POSTED: Thursday, November 9, 2023 05:50 PM
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2023 11:17 AM
Phil B. Soencksen