Many people remember the terrible day of 9/11 that took nearly 3,000 lives. In Indiana, that remembrance apparently took the form of a parade float depicting burning towers.
Parade attendees last Saturday (the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks) at the 40th Popcorn Festival in Porter County, Indiana, were shocked and confused when a parade float drifted by depicting the Twin Towers being struck, complete with smoke machines.
A video of the parade captures the incredulous reaction of many parade-goers, as the float passes by, pulled by a truck.
The float was designed by the Valparaiso Republican Party (VRP). The VRP had apparently intended the float as more of a memorial than a celebration, and mentioned it on Facebook:
“We worked so hard to show our love, respect, our sorrow and respect to all the 9/11 victims, the soldiers who died in Afghanistan and our first responders. #NeverForget #America”
But people began to complain, prompting the VRP to quickly issue an apologetic statement explaining “no disrespect” was meant:
“Our Popcorn Festival float was inspired by the courage and sacrifice of those we lost on September 11, 2001, and recently in Kabul. Afghanistan. We felt it important, considering the parade coincided with the 20th anniversary of that horrible day, and that Indiana welcomed home one [of] the Afghanistan fallen the next day, to dedicate our float not to politics and candidates, but the innocent civilians, first responders and brave military who perished and whose memories we’ll never forget. We wished no disrespect and regret that our tribute to the lives lost and those who continue to serve was to some perceived in bad taste.”
The VPR went on to try to defend itself in the comment section by quoting some emails it had received:
“Great job with the float, I know how much work was put into that. I know people think it’s a disgrace but that was not your intention .you also put the names of the victims in the middle as the memorial. Everyone has to be sensitive about everything now days. I’m proud to live in Valparaiso and wish I was there to see this,” one person wrote.
“Hi, I just wanted you to know that I think your float was a great choice for many reasons. I’ve always felt that Americans have gotten on with their lives and have forgotten the tragedy that struck our nation that day. Be reassured that the ones who are unsettled by it are actually having a good reaction. It’s hard to see the ugly truth sometimes. We shouldn’t forget! Thank you!” another reportedly commented.
One commenter, Kenard Taylor, wasn’t having it, though, and pointed out the discrepancy:
“This video shows what the people think.”
The video referenced captures some candid reactions at the time of the parade, and a man’s voice can be heard saying “A little f*****d up. What the-? Are you-? What are you on?” Another mentions, “Oh no. Everyone’s gotta clap,” as the parade onlookers begin some awkward applause as the float goes by.
A WTC twin towers float with smoke pouring out, by the Valparaiso Republicans (IN) today for the popcorn festival. Imagine thinking this is a respectful tribute. Disturbing. Also, it won honorable mention. #911Anniversary pic.twitter.com/AdRdRe7ueP
— Judith Mayer (@JudithMayerArts) September 11, 2021
At the time of writing, VPR has not indicated that it will run the float again next year. But another post on their Facebook page indicated that the float actually “won Honorable Mention!”
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