A second organizer for Hudson’s Memorial Day event resigns

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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HUDSON, Ohio (WOIO) - A second organizer of a Memorial Day ceremony in Hudson, who was responsible for censoring a veteran’s speech, has resigned.

According to the American Legion Auxiliary of Ohio, Cindy Suchan has stepped down as president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary.

Suchan was one of two event organizers responsible for intentionally censoring an Army veteran’s speech.

Retired Lt. Col. Barney Kemter was sharing a story about the history of Memorial Day and the role played by freed Black slaves to honor the fallen soldiers.

That’s when Suchan told the audio operator, A.J. Stokes, to cut Kemter’s audio.

When Stokes refused, another event organizer, Jim Garrison, reached over and turned down the volume on Kemter’s microphone.

Last week, the Ohio American Legion said Garrison resigned from his role as an officer of Hudson’s American Legion Post 464. That post was responsible for putting on the Memorial Day event and has been suspended pending permanent closure.

A statement from the American Legion Auxiliary of Ohio reads, in part: “We are deeply saddened by what occurred and categorically denounce discrimination in all its forms. We value diversity and strive to provide an environment where all are welcome and can have their voices heard.”

Kemter, meanwhile, told 19News last week that he was disappointed part of his speech was muted.

“The purpose and the intent of the speech was to provide information as to the origin of the first Memorial Day,” he said.

His main message, though, hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, it’s gaining traction across the country.

“My message reached more people than if the microphone had been on,” Kemter said.

Many others were outraged by this audio incident, including Hudson city leaders.

“These remarks should not have been censored by the American Legion representatives,” the city of Hudson shared on Facebook.

The City offered Kemter the opportunity to refilm his unedited speech, but he declined that offer due to prior traveling commitments.

Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert told 19News the city would like to offer Kemter the opportunity to be Grand Marshall of Hudson’s Labor Day parade.

On Monday, June 7th, the American Legion Department of Ohio Department Commander Roger Friend and vice officers met with the Post Commander of Bishop-Lee American Legion Post 464 of Hudson to discuss the temporary suspension of the charter for this post. The post commander, Clark Wonderland, has called for a post-meeting of all current members of Hudson Post 464 on Thursday, June 24th, at 3:00 p.m. to be held at the Streetsboro American Legion Post 685. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the future of Hudson Post 464.

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