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Second organizer of Memorial Day event resigns after censoring veteran’s speech

A second organizer behind an Ohio Memorial Day ceremony has resigned following backlash for turning off a veteran’s microphone as he gave a speech detailing Black people’s contributions to the holiday.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported on Tuesday that Cindy Suchan, who served as the chairwoman for the Memorial Day parade committee and was the president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, resigned almost a week following the incident in which she and Jim Garrison, who served as an adjutant of American Legion Post 464, muted parts of retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter’s speech. Garrison resigned Friday.

Kemter was the keynote speaker for the event and began to share the history behind a group of freed Black people being the first to commemorate the Memorial Day holiday following the surrender of the Confederacy when his mic was cut off.

According to the American Legion Department of Ohio, both Suchan and Garrison planned ahead of time to censor Kemter’s speech.

“They knew exactly when to turn the volume down and when to turn it back up,” Roger Friend, department commander for the Ohio American Legion told The Associated Press.

Suchan reportedly said that she asked Kemter to revise his speech and remove parts of it prior to the event. Kemter pushed back on that report, telling the AP that he did not see the changes early enough to rewrite his speech.

Following the incident, Suchan defended the decision to mute a portion of Kemter’s speech, noting that it “was not relevant to our program for the day” and that the “theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans.” 

Tags American Legion Memorial Day resignation

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