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The Last Memorial Day? Why The Bladensburg Memorial Cannot Be The First To Fall

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May 29, 2018

To the families of the 49 fallen heroes of Prince George’s County, the first “Memorial” Day took place almost a century ago. Will 2018 be the last year for the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial?


Nearly a century ago, a community of fellow patriots, politicians, families, mothers, veterans, and neighbors gathered in Bladensburg, MD to dedicate the land on which the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial would be built.

On that special Sunday – September 28, 1919 – the weather was fair as a rare day in June, perfect for an honorary ceremony to the 49 fallen heroes from Prince George’s County who paid the ultimate price in the “War to End All Wars.”

This extraordinary occasion marked the beginning of what was to become a place of honor, respect, and remembrance. This would be the memorial site where the friends and loved ones of those who perished in the Great War could pass daily and remember their boys who made the supreme sacrifice.

To the families of these 49 men, September 28, 1919 was their “Memorial” Day.

Unimaginably, these men – who already gave their utmost – once again have to face the enemy. Only this time, the enemy is right here on our home soil.

A radical humanist group is hell-bent on desecrating or destroying this veterans memorial – whether it’s by having its arms chopped off or bulldozing it entirely.

As you read this, First Liberty attorneys are preparing a petition to the Supreme Court of the United States on this case. America’s highest court will be the last hope for saving the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial. It will be the last hope for preserving the memory of the 49 fallen heroes who exemplified valor, courage, endurance, and devotion in their service overseas.

This Memorial Day, the countdown begins…and we have to ask ourselves a tough question:

Will this be the last Memorial Day when we can gaze at this iconic and historic gravestone to the men of Prince George’s County?

BLADENSBURG: A MEMORIAL UNLIKE ANY OTHER

From its inception, the Bladensburg Memorial was meant to be more than just a mass of concrete or a mere construction project. It was, actually, a pioneering event in American history.

At the time, there was much talk and contemplation throughout the country about building memorials and sites to commemorate fallen soldiers. But the people of Prince George’s County – through their originality, initiative, and industry – transformed all the rumbling and musings into reality. They were the first to actually begin the construction of a war memorial in honor of our country’s dead.

And that wasn’t the only first.

Mrs. William Farmer, whose son was the first soldier from the county to fall in battle, turned the first shovelful of earth for the foundation of the Bladensburg Memorial. The Marine Band delivered a beautiful musical arrangement and a chorus of children led the crowd in singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” moving the sympathetic crowd to tears, as Mrs. Martin Redman – mother of the first fallen Navy sailor from Prince George’s County – dedicated the adjacent Defense Highway.

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels echoed the patriotic sentiment, praising the achievements of the fallen 49 and commending the people of Prince George’s County for their noble purpose in dedicating a memorial to the “Boys of Bladensburg.”

The committee in charge of planning the memorial’s construction circulated a flyer in 1919, in which it noted a stirring speech from Secretary Daniels. In that address, he affirmed the timeless legacy of the Bladensburg Memorial site, claiming it would be:

“…A boon to the traveler from far and near, that will never fail in rain or sun, that every day in the year will present an unalterable face to every duty expected of it, as did the men in whose honor it was named; and a cross that will stand for time and eternity, like the principles they defended.”

The same flyer also noted that the Bladensburg Memorial would bear at its heart a great gold star, while to its base would be affixed a bronze tablet bearing the names of those in whose honor it was built.

DON’T SAY WE “ALMOST” SAVED THIS MEMORIAL

Fast-forward to today and the Bladensburg Memorial is still standing. But for how long?

If history teaches us a great lesson, it is this: we forget what we do not see.

The 10 Gold Star Mothers, led by Martha Redman, began in earnest to build this memorial immediately after the war’s end. They did so knowing that we would forget the sacrifice of their sons unless the living had some way of remembering their service. For the same reason, the returning members of The American Legion helped complete its construction in 1925.

Thus, we cannot allow the Bladensburg Memorial to be bulldozed to the ground. If the Bladensburg Memorial – the iconic and historic gravestone of the men of Prince George’s County – is torn down, it’s only a matter of time before the wrecking ball turns to thousands of other similar memorials across the country, including Arlington National Cemetery: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Argonne Peace Cross.

Today, it has been nearly a century after the 49 Boys of Bladensburg gave their last full measure for our country. Tragically, many of them died in the waning months of that horrific war. Many of them “almost” made it back home.

And because of that, let’s not say that we “almost” saved this memorial.


They fought for you. Will you fight for them?
Take action today to help preserve the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial!


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To The American Legion:

As a grateful citizen, I support your effort to honor those who have fallen in battle and to keep the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial standing as a visible reminder of valor, sacrifice, endurance, and devotion.

Veterans memorials like the one in Bladensburg, MD are symbols reminding us of the sacrifice of our service members and the cost of war. Tearing down the Bladensburg Memorial would erase the memory of the 49 fallen heroes of Prince George’s County—like they never even existed.

We cannot allow the Bladensburg Memorial to be bulldozed.

Please know that you have my support and backing in your petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.