Memorial Day not the same without the Legion

There are certain events and circumstances that take place in our community over the course of any given year that we just hate to get involved in, for various reasons. One of the touchiest, and least palatable reasons, is the “he-said, she-said” dynamic.

For instance, stories regarding messy divorces or child custody issues often involve two or more parties offering their own views of what happened, and they’re rarely even remotely close to each other’s account. We also get contacted now and then regarding disputes between neighbors and, once again, the two sides typically offer very different accounts of what happened.

In most cases, we simply take a step back, review everything we’ve been told and decide that there really isn’t a definitive story there. In instances more personal in nature — such as a divorce or child custody case — we just won’t go with the story because nothing clear will come out of the reporting, and there is no benefit for the greater public.

But in some situations of the he-said, she-said game, talk becomes so rampant throughout the community that we have to take stock of what is available and try to sift through it for our readers. The case of American Legion Post 24 and the Town of Bethany Beach is one of those situations.

The Legion has been holding Memorial Day services at the Bethany Beach Bandstand for several years, until this past week. We had heard from several sources that the Town was charging the Legion to host the service this year, the Legion balked at being forced to pay to honor fallen service members and the event fell through because of the discord.

“New rules and regulations are to blame,” Post 24 Commander Roland Placente told WBOC-TV 16. “I put this service together every year and this year the town office wants to hold us hostage.”

At the root of this, according to Bethany Beach Town Manager Cliff Graviet, is a $25 administrative fee the Town charges all organizations or groups to use the Bandstand. This is to help offset the Town’s expenses, and must be placed on all entities in order to be fair, particularly after the demonstration put on last year by an Aryan Nation group. Graviet told the Coastal Point that groups such as the Southeast Sussex Ministerium has paid the fee for sunrise service, along with the CROP Walk organizers and Justin Jennings Foundation.

Graviet also told us that State Sen. George H. Bunting, Mayor Tony McClenny and others offered to pay the fee for the Legion, but they ultimately declined.

We know the Legion members are standing on principle here, and we appreciate that. We also know that the Town is in a tough situation here because they truly like hosting the Memorial Day service, and we appreciate their situation.

But it’s imperative that an understanding is reached between these two sides and the Memorial Day services return to Bethany Beach in the future. Bethany Beach is the local hotspot for Memorial Day activities in our community, and the Legion is most able to truly exemplify the importance of the day. The true message of Memorial Day must be carried, and there is no better stage than Bethany Beach.

Figure it out, for everybody’s sake.