As a proud Army veteran and long-time county resident, I categorically reject the whimsical notion that the military memorial known as the “Peace Cross” is an inherently religious symbol that presents a threat to our First Amendment protections against the establishment of religion.
It seems that the American Humanist Association has developed its own self-fulfilling prophecy by defining the Peace Cross as a religious symbol and then taking offense by its existence on public land. The Peace Cross memorial serves a legitimate public purpose by honoring 49 Prince George’s County residents who gave the ultimate sacrifice to their nation during World War I.
The memorial has a quote from President Woodrow Wilson and the words valor, endurance, courage and devotion. At the nexus of the cross is the seal of The American Legion, the preeminent veterans service organization in the nation. When I inspected the memorial, I was unable to find a reference to any religion. Although people of faith may infer some religious meaning from the geometric shape of the memorial, I know of no religious group that uses a cross with an American Legion seal at its nexus.
The U.S. military has a rich tradition of using crosses to recognize extraordinary heroism including the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross. While these awards symbolize the attributes found on the memorial, none of them is designed to serve a religious purpose. Even though I am not a biblical scholar nor a constitutional lawyer, I am endowed with a modicum of common sense. In my view, those who infer a religious meaning to the memorial and are offended because it is on public land have crossed the line of common sense and reason. I urge the AHA to reconsider its position and withdraw its complaint so that future generations can see that the residents of Prince George’s County honor the service and sacrifice of their military heroes. I say let the Peace Cross memorial rest in peace.
Mike Moore of Lanham is commander of Greenbelt American Legion Post 136.