A 77-year old Army veteran who was honoring the contributions of Black veterans in founding Memorial Day during his speech charged the organizers with censoring him that day by cutting off his microphone as he spoke at an American Legion event during the holiday.
Retired Lt. Col. Barnard Kempter, speaking at the event hosted by the Hudson American Legion Auxillary in Hudson, Ohio began to cite the history of how Black soldiers began the tradition in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865. It was at that point that his microphone was cut off for two minutes. The veteran at first thought it was technical difficulties.
The president of the auxiliary, Cindy Suchan later told a local newspaper that it was intentional claiming that part “was not relevant to our program for the day.” She would not state whether it was she or the other organizer, Jim Garrison who actually turned the audio down.
Kempter, a former medic and native of Hudson, had sent his remarks to the organizers ahead of time. He noted that Suchan sent a reply the night before, asking him to make changes but didn’t specify what. He expressed his dismay in an interview: “It’s sad that it had to develop like that,” he said. “My whole intent on the speech was to be informative, educational and to pay tribute to African American contributions to the Memorial Day service and traditions.” Kempter also noted the many compliments he received from the audience for including that history in his 11-minute speech.
The American Legion stated on Thursday (June 3rd) that it has opened an investigation into the incident, and that the group’s commander, Roger Friend has requested the resignations of both Ms. Suchan and Mr. Garrison. Neither individual has made any further comment on what took place.