Forty-nine families in Prince George’s County, Maryland, lost their sons in World War I. With their loved ones buried in European theaters of war, most of the families could not visit the graves.
So in 1925, the American Legion and the Gold Star families erected a monument in the county to them — and all soldiers who gave their lives in the “war to end all wars.” Known as the Peace Cross, it symbolizes both spiritual peace for the departed as well as hoped-for peace between the nations.
When the monument was erected, a cross-shaped gravestone was a common, even universal, symbol of service and sacrifice. But America’s religious profile has changed dramatically over the years, with growing numbers disavowing traditional beliefs.