After serving as parade marshal for the Royal British Legion for 40 years, Albert “Dusty” Miller was told Monday he could no longer stay at his position because he was simply too old.
The 89-year-old World War II veteran was informed by senior officials shortly before last week’s Remembrance Day parade that he was “too old to be insured.”
“At first I thought somebody had died and it was going to be another funeral,” the veteran from Kirby, Liverpool recalled when officials asked to speak to him. “Then they told me HQ insisted I had to stand down as parade marshal.”
Officials told Miller it was a matter of insurance and that he should have stepped down when he was 85.
Chairman of the Legion’s Merseyside and West Lancashire branch, Jim Ryan, said the organization had only just realized that Miller was not eligible for insurance.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Miller said. “I was that disgusted I didn’t know what to say.”
Miller joined the navy at the age of 16. He was recognized for his service with four campaign medals.
“After 40-odd years, it’s a shabby way of telling him that he can’t do it any more,” Miller’s son, Tony, said.
A spokeswoman for the Royal British Legion said it was a matter of health and safety reasons:
“For health and safety reasons, the Legion’s insurance policy only covers persons up to the age of 85. We are extremely grateful for Mr. Miller for his years of dedicated service to the Legion and of course welcome him to attend future parades as a guest.”
A friend of Millers who works with the Legion and refused to be named didn’t agree with the organization’s decision.
“It is indirect ageism by jobsworth – and from an organization that highlights the plight of war veterans that is crazy.”