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Greater Muskegon Memorial Day committee disbanding after parade controversy

The committee has notified leaders from the City of Muskegon that they will be disbanding at the end of this month.
Credit: WZZM 13

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Following a controversy involving the NAACP, members of the Greater Muskegon Memorial Day Committee have decided to disband effective July 1, 2023. Committee chair Steve Allen confirmed the news to 13 ON YOUR SIDE.

The committee had originally banned political groups from participating in Muskegon's Memorial Day parade. Allen says this was an effort to keep the focus on those who died in service to our country, and our nation's veterans. The committee considered the NAACP a political group.

However, after receiving backlash, the committee opted to reverse their decision and allow the NAACP to participate.

During the controversy, Allen tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE that their members, all volunteers, started to receive harassing phone calls. Allen says the calls were not threatening, but they were enough to cause two volunteer, non-veteran members to resign. 

Once people started resigning, the committee made the decision to disband. They've reached out to city leaders in hopes that giving early notice will give them enough time to find someone else to put on next year's Memorial Day parade.

Allen shared an email with 13 ON YOUR SIDE that he sent to Mayor Ken Johnson and Muskegon County Commissioner Charles Nash:

Gentlemen - This email is being sent to you, to advise you that after approximately 25 years of community volunteer service, effective July 1, 2023, the Greater Muskegon Memorial Day Committee has agreed to disband.

The reason for this notification, is to give the city and surrounding suburbs of Muskegon advance notice that the GMMDC will no longer be procuring approximately 11,000 American flags, distributing the flags to the various veterans groups/organizations or townships for placement on Veterans final resting places in honor of Memorial Day. (Per the Markers and Veterans Graves Act 63 of 1915 and State of Michigan 35.831) In addition, as required by the City of Muskegon, the removal of the flags within 5 days after Memorial Day, will need to be reassigned.

Furthermore the GMMDC will no longer be organizing the Memorial Day parade in downtown Muskegon. As I am sure you know this parade takes a lot of effort. Besides going through the parade permit process, meeting with the City of Muskegon Department of Public Works, City of Muskegon Police Department we were also required to purchase a one million dollar insurance policy. Following the parade, historically we have held a traditional ceremony in Hackley Park (in most recent years in the Fruenthal Center) to honor our fallen comrades. This ceremony included speeches from dignitaries, traditional reading proclaiming the meaning of Memorial Day, 21 gun salute, followed by the playing of Taps.

All of the above was done in an effort to promote citizenship, patriotism and to honor our veterans both living and deceased in the Muskegon community.

The GMMDC would like to thank the City of Muskegon Department of Public Works and the City of Muskegon Police Department for their assistance in past parades.

It is the GMMDC hopes, that the Greater Muskegon community will continue this tradition and we wish you nothing but the best in the future in honoring this solemn Memorial Day holiday.

Steve Allen

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