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Veteran's mic cut when he speaks of Black people's role in Memorial Day creation

What at first blush appeared to be a short audio malfunction at Monday's Memorial Day ceremony in Hudson, Ohio's Markillie Cemetary turned out to be anything but.

A ceremony organizer turned off the microphone when the event's keynote speaker, retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter, began sharing a story about how former slaves and freed Black men shortly after the Civil War exhumed the remains of more than 200 Union soldiers who died in battle in Charleston and gave them “a proper burial.”

The microphone was turned down for about two minutes in the middle of Kemter's

11-minute speech during the event hosted by the Hudson American Legion Lee-Bishop Post 464. Kemter said he wanted to use his speech to share the history of the origin of Memorial Day. Afterward, he noted, he received "numerous compliments" from attendees.

Cindy Suchan, who chairs the Memorial Day parade committee and is president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary...said organizers wanted this part excluded because it “was not relevant to our program for the day," and added the “theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans.”

Kemter, a 1962 Hudson High School graduate, said he was trained as a combat medic, was in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1995, and served in the Persian Gulf War. “I find it interesting that [the American Legion] … would take it upon themselves to censor my speech and deny me my First Amendment right to [freedom of] speech,” … This is not the same country I fought for.” Audio engineer, A.J. Stokes, initially refused instructions to mute the sound equipment, but did show one of the organizers how to do it. Commenting on their actions, Stokes said "That was very improper. I would’ve never done something like that.”

Update: Hudson American Legion Post's charter suspended, leader resigns


note: this is a shortened version of the report by Phil Keren of the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal





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