ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — This Memorial Day a number of veterans groups in Royal Oak are sitting out the annual parade over complaints about the new route.
Construction on Main Street forced the city to choose a new, temporary route for 2022. Some veterans say the route chosen is too short and problematic for disabled vets.
“We’re continually being diminished,” said Tom Roth, Commander of American Legion Post 253. "They’re going to do what they want to do without regard to the veterans who take part of these parades.”
Roth says his American Legion post is one of at least 3 veterans' groups including the VFW and DAV that are sitting out this year's parade over the new route they disagree with.
“It's short, it's a shell of what it was,” Roth said of the parade route. "There are a lot of different alternatives that would've been a longer distance and we could've ended right there like we normally do.”
Due to Main Street construction, the new route on Washington is 3 blocks shorter and ends farther away from the memorial ceremony.
“I don't understand how they can not want to be a part of it, because the parade route was three blocks shorter,” said Judy Davids, Community Engagement Specialist for the City of Royal Oak. "We're heartbroken they’re not participating in the parade because it means a lot.”
According to Davids, the temporary route was suggested by Royal Oak police for safety reasons to avoid crossing train tracks. She says veterans are on the committee that planned it and they’ve offered ways to get disabled vets from the end of the parade to the ceremony.
“If they really want to be in the parade, we will find a way for them to be in it,” Davids said. "I gotta believe that there's a way for those vets to be a part of our parade.”
This follows some contentious moments before last year's parade in which Roth and veteran groups filed a lawsuit against the city and told city officials their presence wasn’t welcomed at the parade after the city moved the veterans memorial roughly 40 feet without their approval.
However, Roth says this decision is only about this year's parade and being heard.
“That's not part of it," Roth said of the memorial move. "But it's just that continual disregard for what we think and what we’d like to see happen is really what this boils down to.”
“I'm hoping that this can all just be water under the bridge and next year we’ll all come together and put on a great parade,” Davids said.
Davids said they still expect roughly the same number of participants in the parade as they've had in years past.
Roth says the veteran groups sitting out will still be at the Memorial Day ceremony after the parade.
"We will be at the ceremony, we will do our gun salute to the fallen," Roth said. "We’ll be there but we aren't taking part in the Memorial parade itself."