A 9/11 memorial parade float unveiled during a small town Indiana festival on Saturday is raising eyebrows and sparking outrage.
The float, sponsored by the Valparaiso Republicans, features the twin towers with smoke rising up from them, with a black hole in each that appears to represent where the airplanes flew into the buildings in the attacks, which ultimately took 2,977 lives, including those in the attack on the Pentagon and crash in Pennsylvania.
“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,” the Valparaiso Republicans said in a Facebook post.
Comments on the post are overwhelmingly positive, but commenting has been limited. And other posts showing the 9/11 display appear to have been taken down from the organization’s page.
“Really amazing, you make us old Republicans very proud. Thank you!” one commenter said.
“Wow, I was out of town, but what an amazing job you guys did. I am so proud of my Republicans. That was a huge amount of work. Thank you,” said another.
But to many, the sight of the twin towers smoldering on the back of a trailer cruising down the street wasn’t as somber as it was disturbing.
“This is so tone-deaf and disrespectful,” one commenter said.
Video shared to YouTube captures reactions from inside the crowd as the float passes by. (Warning: video contains strong language.)
“A little f----d up,” a festivalgoer is heard saying. “What the-? Are you-? What are you on?”
In a statement to McClatchy News, Porter County GOP chairman Michael Simpson said the festival float “was inspired by the courage and sacrifice of those we lost on September 11, 2001, and recently in Kabul, Afghanistan,” adding that he and fellow members intended “to dedicate our float not to politics and candidates, but to 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 statement said.