In the News

Opinion: In Bladensburg, secularists’ attempt to raze a cross is also an effort to erase a memory

July 9, 2018

By Jeremy Dys, First Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel and Declan Riley KunkelFirst Liberty Legal Intern. Originally published in the Washington Examiner July 9, 2018.

The names of 49 heroes are etched on the plaque of the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial—erected by Gold Star mothers and the local post of The American Legion. For nearly 100 years, it has stood in honor of 49 men of Prince George’s County, Maryland, who gave their lives fighting for freedom in WWI.

Their stories are worth remembering. Yet, if some secularists get their way, this surrogate gravestone for those 49 heroes and others like it could soon be bulldozed. First Liberty Institute represents The American Legion and has asked the Supreme Court of the United States to protect this memorial.

Though it has stood at the entrance to the National Defense Highway for nearly a century, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit recently determined that the memorial is unlawful. The court determined that, because of its cross-shape—the design Gold Star mothers and The American Legion used to recall the battlefield grave markers of Europe under which their sons had been buried—and its placement on land acquired by the state of Maryland, it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

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