It is feared that once a veterans memorial in Virginia is torn down, it is only a matter of time before many more historical monuments will suffer a similar fate.
First Liberty Institute is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to take up a case involving the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial.
The legal group's request comes after a panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the American Humanist Association, which claims that the 40-foot-tall Christian cross on public property violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constution.
The Fourth Circuit subsequently denied First Liberty's petition for all the judges to hear the case.
"There was not a complaint about the memorial until a few years ago, when this group sent a letter to the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission complaining about its cross shape," First Liberty attorney Roger Byron explained. "So, this memorial has stood for almost a century, with every single person ever seeing it knowing exactly what it is – which is a World War I memorial to the 49 men of Prince George's County who fell in the First World War."
Non-Christian faith groups have filed briefs in support of the Bladensburg Memorial, including Islamic and Jewish groups.
"One of the judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals who dissented from the decision said, 'Veterans memorial park, which is where the memorial is located, may not be Arlington National Cemetery, but it's the next thing to it, and we should let the cross remain and let those honored rest in peace,'" Byron argued. "Another judge who dissented from the opinion recognized that, 'This decision needlessly puts at risk hundreds of monuments with similar symbols standing on public grounds across the country – such as those in nearby Arlington National Cemetery.'"
He wants to stop an avalanche of destruction before it begins.
"So, as we have pointed out from the beginning, if this memorial, this gravestone, is bulldozed to the ground, it's only a matter of time before the wrecking ball turns on Arlington National Cemetery – and the cross-shaped memorials there – and the hundreds, if not thousands, of other memorials like this one across the country."