The Bladensburg Peace Cross has stood as a memorial to Maryland’s World War I dead since 1925. The American Humanist Association says it’s unconstitutional because the 40 foot high cross sits on public land in Bladensburg, Maryland. They say it’s a violation of the Constitution.
An appeals court agreed and ordered the memorial torn down. The American Legion is fighting to save the memorial. Legionnaires paid to finish building it more than 90 years ago, and this week their case is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It would be like desecrating a memorial to a fallen veteran,” said Mary LaQuay, whose uncle’s name is inscribed on the base of the 40-foot Peace Cross.
She says she fears for the fate of the memorial, as the Supreme Court decides whether the cross can remain on public land.
“Let’s keep honoring them just like we need to honor all our memorials,” said Kevin Bartlett, Judge Advocate with the American Legion.
The cross bears the names of 49 men who lost their lives in World War I.
“It would be a disgrace to tear that memorial down,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of the First Liberty Institute, which identifies itself as “the largest non-profit legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious liberty for all Americans”.
“An America where we tear down this memorial which is just the beginning because the religious cleansing would continue throughout the country,” Shackelford said.
But the American Humanist Association says the Supreme Court would honor all veterans by moving the cross to private land.
“We are not seeking the desecration or the demolishment of crosses in general. We think there are many acceptable remedies here,” said Monica Miller of the American Humanist Association. She says the Constitution requires the separation of church and state.
“We’re here to honor all veterans, not just Christians but everyone who is not represented by a Latin Cross as a war memorial,” Miller said.
Miller says people of many faiths, including Christians, have signed on to the Humanist argument.
The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on this case in June.