“Most people have never ever heard me speak much less see me smile,” said Remington Reimer, as he addressed the large crowd gathered Thursday at Owl Stadium.
And then, the Burleson resident began what would have appeared to have been a traditional graduation speech – thanking his parents and naming special teachers that have helped him along the way and telling the crowd how proud he was of his class and how close they all were.
He discussed perseverance in life, and told fellow graduates its the finish that matters. He then told a story about a runner who finished a race with a broken leg. He added that, years from now, it wouldn't matter that he was valedictorian or first in his class but, rather, that he and his classmates finished the race and finished well.
Nice words. Nice kid. Another graduation day in America.
Then Reimer discussed his faith and thanked God for “sending His only son to die for me and the rest of the world.”
Reimer, who has secured an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, talked about free speech and the U.S. Constitution and how that “yesterday, I was threatened with having the mic turned off and...”
And then the mic was turned off.
Those last words were repeated in a post to the Burleson Star by one eyewitness on Facebook.
Reimer continued his speech but, even from as close as 10 feet away, you couldn't really hear what he was saying.
“I have no idea what he said,” Remington's father Todd Reimer said. “I was just as confused as everybody else was. I'm not sure what happened up there or why his mic was cut off.”
Local banker Matt McWhorter, who was in attendance at the ceremony, said that he, too, was confused by what happened.
“I'm not sure why they would turn his mic off,” McWhorter said. “If the administration was concerned about him talking about his faith, they probably would have turned the mic off sooner than they did. I hosted a graduation party after the graduation and some of the students who knew Remington said that the part of the speech where the microphone was cut off didn't have anything to do with religion or his faith. So, really, I don't know what to think at this point or what he might have said.”
But according to another eyewitness source who posted on Burleson Star's Facebook the situation stemmed from Reimer being told not to mention freedom of speech or religion. But that source said the graduation ceremony closed in prayer.
Another Facebook posting emailed to the Burleson Star clarified what Reimer had said after the microphone was cut off:
“We are all fortunate to live in a country where we can express our beliefs, where our mics won't be turned off, as I have been threatened to be if I veer away from the school-censored speech I have just finished. Just as Jesus spoke out against the authority of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who tried to silence him, I will not have my freedom of speech taken away from me. And I urge you all to do the same. Do not let anyone take away your religious or Constitutional rights from you.”
The crowd roared with enthusiasm and Reimer sat down.
“The district has reviewed the rules and policies regarding graduation speeches and has determined that the policy was followed last night,” JHS principal Mick Cochran said. “The district does not comment publically on matters of conduct of individual students so we cannot comment further at this point.”
Calls placed to Reimer's home by the Joshua Star were not immediately returned. A JHS teacher contacted by the Joshua Star also declined to comment based on a district directive not to comment.