A Veteran Tried to Credit Black Americans on Memorial Day. His Mic Got Muted.

The Four Percent


In an interview this week with The Akron Beacon Journal, Ms. Suchan-Rothgery acknowledged that she or Mr. Garrison — she did not specify — had turned off Mr. Kemter’s microphone for two minutes. She told the newspaper that Mr. Kemter’s narrative “was not relevant to our program for the day” and that the “theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans.”

Ms. Suchan-Rothgery and Mr. Garrison, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The episode swiftly drew international attention to the solemn observance in Hudson, a town of some 22,000 people about 15 miles north of Akron, Ohio, at a time of reckoning in the country over racial injustice.

Until that moment, the service had resembled countless others that take place every Memorial Day. There was the playing of taps, the reading of the names of local armed forces members who died while serving the nation and the placement of wreaths.

Mr. Friend said in the statement on Friday, “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.”

In a statement issued on Thursday on Twitter, James W. Oxford, the national commander of the American Legion, saluted Mr. Kemter for his efforts to highlight the “important role played by Black Americans in honoring our fallen heroes.”

“We regret any actions taken that detracts from this important message,” Mr. Oxford said. “Regardless of the investigation’s outcome, the national headquarters is very clear that the American Legion deplores racism and reveres the Constitution.”


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