HUDSON, Ohio — According to an American Legion Department of Ohio news release, the Hudson Lee-Bishop American Legion, whose post officer cut the microphone of a veteran as he spoke about Memorial Day’s connection to Black history during a speech on Memorial Day, has been suspended pending permanent closure.
Jim Garrison, the Hudson American Legion’s post officer and the man who was discovered to have censored retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter’s speech at Markillie Cemetery on Memorial Day, has also resigned as a post officer, and the American Legion has demanded that he resign his membership altogether.
“The American Legion Department of Ohio does not hold space for members, veterans, or families of veterans who believe that censoring black history is acceptable behavior,” the release states. “We discovered that the censoring that occurred at the Memorial Day Ceremony in Hudson, Ohio, sponsored by Hudson American Legion Post 464, was premeditated and planned by Jim Garrison and Cindy Suchan."
American Legion officials told News 5 partner the Akron Beacon Journal that Suchan, who chairs the Memorial Day Parade Committee and is president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, has not resigned.
Still, her case is being handled by the American Legion Auxiliary of Ohio.
During his Memorial Day speech, Kemter referenced historians from Harvard when he said, “Memorial Day was first commemorated by an organized group of freed black slaves less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered."
News 5 was provided an original copy of Kemter's complete speech. You can read it here.
Just before Kemter expanded on how the Black community paid tribute to Union troops, his microphone was cut off — which Kemter recognized — but he kept going and spoke louder.
Watch the video of Kemter's speech in the video player below, as recorded by Hudson Community Television. Kemter's microphone is cut off at around the 50-minute mark.
Suchan and Garrison “knew exactly when to turn the volume down and when to turn it back up,” the American Legion Department of Ohio release stated.
Before the event, Kemter gave a copy of the speech to Suchan, who asked him to remove the specific part of the speech about how newly freed black slaves first commemorated Memorial Day after the Civil War.
“These actions of Post 464, through its authorized representatives or officers in attempting to censor or suppress that portion of LTC Kemters’ speech and effectively doing so by reducing the speaker system volume, constitutes a violation of the ideals and purposes of the American Legion,” the release states.
Suchan had told the Akron Beacon Journal that the volume was turned down during part of Kemter’s speech because “it was not relevant to our program for the day” and the “theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans.”
The American Legion Department of Ohio concluded the news release by stating:
“We are deeply saddened by this and stand in unity and solidarity with the black community and all peoples of race, color, religion, sex, and gender, so that those who are exclusive of such persons will know that this behavior is not acceptable in The American Legion, in our homes, our hearts, our communities, in private, public, or anywhere. We will continue to educate the value of diversity. Being different amongst each other is what makes us better – together.”
Ian Cross at WEWS first reported this story.