Royal Oak moves war memorial to make new sidewalk, leading to lawsuit

Leadership at the American Legion Post in Royal Oak sent a letter to the city's politicians saying don't show up at this year's Memorial Day parade.

"It's a point of civic pride," said Ed Burkhardt. "Maybe it would be better if they weren't there."

And the reason? City officials moved the veteran's war memorial with a new sidewalk in its place.

"I don't think anybody would want to go move Arlington because they're going to throw a sidewalk down," he said.

Even a lawsuit was filed to force the city to move it back.

"What is in these people's heads to make them want to do that, and just squash our feelings or squash our opinions, and just marginalizing us, that's how I feel about it," said Burkhardt, the vice commander of the American Legion Frank Wendland Post 2.

The city said it tried to keep the memorial where it was at, but couldn't. 

"With the new Henry Ford Medical Center, the new parking structure, what will be the new library Terrace, where it is now, is right in the confluence of all the walkways for all of those three buildings," said Patricia Paruch, Royal Oak city commissioner.

It was moved early on Wednesday morning, 70 feet.

FOX 2: "Seventy feet is not that much?"

"It goes from 3,000 to 100 people for a ceremony, that is what the problem is," said Charles Semchena, former Royal Oak city attorney.

He says it violates Royal Oak's law.  

"The land that memorial is moved from is now going to be used for non-memorial purposes which violates the ordinance unless it's voted on again," he said.

FOX 2: "Chuck Semchena, the former city attorney and commissioner, is wrong?"

"Yes he is," said Paruch.

"They didn't ask us what our opinion was," said Burkhardt.

"We have been listening to their issues since 2018, we just don't agree with them," Paruch said.

So the parade in Royal Oak will take place at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day Monday. And will elected leaders be in the parade?

"Of course we're going to be in the parade," she said.