Here's a fucked up story.

A nice old veteran, retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter, who served as a combat medic for 30 years, was giving the keynote address for a Memorial Day event at the Markillie Cemetery in Hudson, Ohio. In putting together his speech, he thought it would be nice to share some Memorial Day history people might not have heard before, about freed Black slaves who took it upon themselves to exhume the bodies of 240 Union troops who died in the Civil War so they could be buried with the proper respect. They were literally some of the first people to ever observe what became Memorial Day. What could be more on point than that?

The Hill shares some of Kemter's remarks:

"In recent years, the origins of how and where 'Decoration Day' began has sparked lively debate amongst historians. However, Yale historian David Blight, asserting the holiday is rooted in a moving ceremony, [said it] was conducted by freed slaves on May 1, 1865, at the tattered remains of a Confederate prisoner of war camp," he stated. "It was at Charleston Washington Race Course and Jockey Club today known as Hampton Park."

"The ceremony is believed to have included a parade of as many as 10,000 people, including 3,000 African American schoolchildren singing the Union marching song, 'John Brown's Body,' " he said. "They were carrying armfuls of flowers and went to decorate at the graves." [...]

Kemter spoke about how, two weeks prior to the ceremony in Charleston, the "former slaves and workmen exhumed a mass grave of 240 Union soldiers and officers" and "took those remains and buried them individual graves with honors."

"Each soldier was given a proper burial," he said, while adding that African Americans "also constructed a fence to protect the cemetery site and erected a sign over the entrance."

How interesting and cool!

Obviously the organizers cut Kemter's mic right in the middle of that section. Wouldn't want the white people listening to get infected with the critical race theory, by hearing a story about Black people doing good works!

Kemter thought it was just a glitch at the time, but nah, it was on purpose. We guess Black people doing something nice for fallen troops goes against the spirit of Memorial Day, if you're an unhinged fucking bigot.


The microphone was turned down for about two minutes in the middle of Kemter's 11-minute speech during the event hosted by the Hudson American Legion Lee-Bishop Post 464.

Cindy Suchan, who chairs the Memorial Day parade committee and is president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, said it was either her or Jim Garrison, adjutant of American Legion Lee-Bishop Post 464, who turned down the audio. When pressed, she would not say who specifically did it.

Suchan said organizers wanted this part excluded because it "was not relevant to our program for the day," and added the "theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans."

The theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans, not Black people, um, honoring veterans. So these racist trash people cancel cultured the nice old veteran telling the story.

Kemter said he wanted to use his speech to share the history of the origin of Memorial Day. Afterward, he noted, he received "numerous compliments" from attendees who told him "it was nice to hear the history."

"It was well-received," Kemter said, adding many people told him, "I never knew that."

You know, as normal people do when they learn history they didn't know, especially history that's pertinent to the occasion. History they probably never learned in school. You know, like why those sanitation workers in Memphis were really striking before Dr. King was assassinated, or about the Tulsa race massacre.

Kemter is appalled:

"I find it interesting that [the American Legion] … would take it upon themselves to censor my speech and deny me my First Amendment right to [freedom of] speech," Kemter said. "… This is not the same country I fought for."

Indeed.

It appears this was a "yet she persisted" situation, like that time Elizabeth Warren read the words of Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor and Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP senators got very angry because that Black woman had said mean things about their very racist colleague Jeff Sessions. Kemter had sent his speech over to the organizer, Cindy Suchan, who just hated it, we guess because of all the Black people in it. "We asked him to modify his speech, and he chose not to do that," she said. She wouldn't tell the Akron Beacon Journal which parts of his speech she hated so much, but did say that it was the part where they cut Kemter's mic, about the Black people.

So using our noodle and our deductive reasoning capabilities ...

About three days before the ceremony, Kemter said, he was emailed by an event organizer (whom he declined to name) asking him to remove a part of his speech dealing with Black Americans' role in an early Memorial Day-type of ceremony. Kemter declined to share why the organizer asked him to remove this part, but said he asked the organizer to specify what portions they wanted to have excluded.

He didn't get a reply until Sunday night. By that time, he was like fuck it, doing the speech I wrote. "I didn't have time to sit down and rewrite another speech," he said.

The Beacon Journal explains that when Kemter started talking, and when he started committing grievous sins against whatever KKK Jesus these American Legion organizers worship, by portraying Black people in a historically correct and also nice light, Suchan tried to get the audio engineer, A.J. Stokes, to cut the mic. He was like fuck off, but helpfully showed her where the volume control was. Stokes says it was the other organizer, Jim Garrison, who actually did the cancel-volume-knobbing.

Stokes said Suchan and Garrison were both "very adamant" about turning off Kemter's microphone.

"That was very improper," Stokes said. "I would've never done something like that."

Like it was some fucking emergency. Call the cops, somebody is saying something nice about Black people!

Stokes told Kemter he was extremely sorry about all this, saying "I had nothing to do with that. Cindy and Jim were the ones that turned your microphone off."

In summary and in conclusion, Cindy and Jim are absolute pieces of shit, and if you'd like to hear the nice veteran's story, turn up your earbuds and skip to the 47-minute mark in the video below. They cut his mic around 50:30, but you can still hear him.

[Akron Beacon Journal / The Hill]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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