Two Kent State students wounded in 1970 shooting to serve as commencement speakers

Dean Kahler and Thomas Grace (Credit: Kent State University)

KENT, Ohio (WKYC) — Kent State University has announced that two of the nine students that were wounded in the May 4, 1970 shooting will return to campus this Spring as commmencement speakers.

2020年欧预赛赛程Dean Kahler will act as speaker on Saturday, May 9 for the 'One University Commencement,' while Thomas Grace will serve as speaker for the Advanced Degree Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 8.

“We are privileged to have Dean and Tom serve as our commencement speakers,” Kent State University President Todd Diacon said in a statement. “Both have huge hearts and great respect for Kent State and have been loyal alumni for decades. They are the perfect choice to cap off our May 4 50th commemorative year.”

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Kahler and Grace were both just 20-years-old when they attended a rally to protest President Richard Nixon's decision to escalate the Vietnam War by invading Cambodia on May 4, 1970. Four students were killed and nine were wounded when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on protesters.

2020年欧预赛赛程A bullet fired by a member of the Ohio National Guard pierced Kahler's spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down. He has been wheelchair-bound since the shooting.

2020年欧预赛赛程“I am honored to be asked to be the speaker at commencement,” Kahler said in a statement. “I have always considered Kent State my second home. I like coming back and visiting Kent State as often as I can, and I am excited at the prospect of coming back.”

Kahler says his speech will focus on the theme of “when one door closes, new ones open, and there’s a big door opening for you.”

2020年欧预赛赛程Grace was hit in the heel of his left foot during the May 4, 1970 shooting. A historian, scholar and researcher, Grace is author of the book “Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties,” which was published in 2016.

2020年欧预赛赛程“It is indeed a great honor for me to receive such a weighty invitation to serve as the graduate commencement speaker for spring 2020, 50 years removed from when the university experienced its worst day and month,” Grace said. “Few institutions faced such challenges, and none have done better, over the last quarter century, than Kent State, in meeting the many challenges that arose from that dark time in our history.”

Kent State University is continuing its year-long remembrance of the events of May 4, 1970. It will come to a climax with Commemoration Weekend starting on Friday, May 1 and continuing through the end of the traditional noon commemoration on Monday, May 4, 2020 (including the annual candlelight walk and vigil). Actress Jane Fonda will serve as a speaker during Commemoration weekend, a decision that has caused controversy because of the Oscar-winner's controversial trip to North Vietnam in 1972 when she was photographed on top of an anti-aircraft gun. Fonda has since expressed regret over the photo.