The Ohio American Legion is calling for the resignation of event organizers who cut a veteran’s mic audio off as he spoke about the role Black people played in the origins of Memorial Day.
On Monday (May 31), retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter delivered a speech during a Memorial Day event in Hudson, Ohio. During his remarks, he discussed the history of the holiday, including facts that proved that a group of freed Black people were the first to establish it in Charleston, South Carolina.
“However, Yale historian David Blight, asserting the holiday is rooted in a moving ceremony, [said it] was conducted by freed slaves on May 1, 1865, at the tattered remains of a Confederate prisoner of war camp,” he said during his speech. “It was a Charleston Washington Race Course and Jockey Club today known as Hampton Park.”
“The ceremony is believed to have included a parade of as many as 10,000 people, including 3,000 African American schoolchildren singing the Union marching song ‘John Brown’s Body,’” the veteran continued. “They were carrying armfuls of flowers and went to decorate at the graves.”
As he continued his speech, his audio was turned off. It was later revealed that either Cindy Suchan, chair of the Memorial Day parade committee and president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, or Jim Garrison, adjutant of the American Legion Post 464, turned his mic off. Suchan even asked Kemter to remove the portion about Black people creating Memorial Day from his speech days before the ceremony took place.
The Ohio American Legion is now calling for both Suchan and Garrison to resign. They are also conducting an investigation into the incident. “The American Legion of Ohio, Commander Roger Friend, has requested the resignation of Post Officers James Garrison and Cindy Suchan of Hudson American Legion Post 464,” they tweeted. “A full investigation and Charter of this Post are pending with the Department Executive Board.”
Kemter said he was disappointed in how he was treated. “This is not the same country I fought for,” the veteran, who spent 30 years in the Army, said.
Check out the Ohio American Legion’s tweet below.