Editor, Daily Press:
At the Veterans Day parade, The [Tahlequah High School] Orange Express was going to march, as always, and while lining up, a young man, Malan Cline, was going to wear his uncle’s combat boots to march in, instead of his marching shoes, and was told he would not be allowed to do that.
Here is the Facebook status that his grandmother, Debra Lafon, wrote:
“I’m ashamed to say the Tahlequah Orange Express marching band refused to let my grandson Malan Cline march wearing Zachary’s combat boots on Veterans Day! We spent the parade at the NSU parking lot with me crying my eyes out. The assistant band director referred to my son as Malan’s dead relative, [the] ultimate slap in the face on this Veterans Day! My heart is broken. I am going to spend my time here [Fort Gibson National Cemetery] where at least there is some honor!”
Debra has lost her son, Malan’s uncle, who owned the pair of boots. Malan was excited to think he would be able to honor his uncle by wearing the boots that he had fought in, and was told “no.” I am a former member of the Orange Express and I am ashamed myself of the actions of the band directors. Harvey Price may have been a stickler, but he sure had heart, and would have never have allowed that. He would have put Malan on the front row, proudly.
I guess I’m just frustrated at the lack of respect.
I doubt that anything will be done or even said to the directors, but I feel that Malan, Debra, their family, and the community deserves and apology from them, for their disrespect. Or at least an explanation, and having him be “out of uniform” is bologna because it was a Veterans Day Parade, not a competition.