he Bladenburg’s Cross, has been erected to honour the selfless sacrifice of 49 men from Prince George’s County, Maryland who gave up their lives in serving the U.S. Armed Forces
After losing a court battle over a cross-shaped memorial to World War I veterans in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a group of atheists continued to press its demand for the demolition of the site, WND reports.
The World War I Memorial, also known as Bladenburg’s Cross, has been erected to honour the selfless sacrifice of 49 men from Prince George’s County, Maryland who gave up their lives in serving the U.S. Armed Forces. It has stood as tribute to the veterans for almost a decade without any objection, WND notes.
However, in February 2014, the American Humanist Association (AHA) filed a complaint alleging that public ownership, maintenance and display of the memorial violated the Establishment Clause.
The American Legion, which is defending the 40-foot-tall cross at the intersection of Maryland Route 450 and U.S. Route 1 in Bladensburg, was represented by First Liberty Institute in the case.
On Nov. 30, 2015, the court upheld the rights of the state to maintain the memorial, ruling it as “constitutional,” according to TeaParty.org.
“To destroy the memorial would be to exhibit a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause tradition,” the court ruled.
The AHA, joined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Dec. 28, 2015.
Lawyers working for the memorial filed a new brief to the 4th Circuit, arguing that the AHA “is using the First Amendment to attack a 90-year old veterans memorial simply because it is in the shape of a cross.”
The new filing stated that the builders chose the cross shape but “not out of religious motivation” and specifically “to represent the wooden crosses under which the fallen soldiers were buried overseas,” said the report.
“The AHA’s arguments boil down to a claim that the memorial’s employment of a cross shape should inevitably lead to its unconstitutionality. This is simply not the law,” the brief contended. “The Establishment Clause does not require the court to reach into this community and tear out a cherished landmark.”
Noel Francisco, lead counsel for the American Legion, said earlier in the case that they are ready to defend the memorial and the men it honours against the “meritless attack.”
“This veterans memorial has stood in honour of the fallen for almost 100 years and should be allowed to stand for 100 years more.”
Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute expressed confidence the Fourth Circuit will agree and uphold the constitutionality of the historic veterans memorial.
“The humanist group is facing an uphill battle on the appeal. After a thorough analysis of the facts and the law, the court was clear that the memorial is completely lawful.”