Legion supports Bladensburg memorial in Supreme Court filing

The American Legion urged the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the Bladensburg Veterans Memorial in Prince George’s County, Md., in a court filing dated Dec. 17.

Working with attorneys from First Liberty Institute and Jones Day, The American Legion’s filing argued that the World War I era memorial is constitutional.

“When our brothers at The American Legion erected this memorial in 1925, it was to prevent all of us from forgetting something we cannot see: the service and sacrifice of those who died defending freedom,” said American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad. “This memorial is a fixed reminder of 49 men who gave everything to preserve our freedom.”

In 1925, The American Legion and Gold Star Mothers dedicated the cross-shaped Bladensburg Veterans Memorial to honor 49 Prince George’s County men who gave their lives during World War I. Mothers who lost their sons in World War I designed the memorial to recall the cross-shaped grave markers standing over the countless American graves on the Western Front of that war.

For more than 90 years the memorial honored the service and sacrifice of the 49 veterans without complaint. But in 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declared it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“The Supreme Court should honor the way Gold Star mothers chose to remember the service and sacrifice of their sons who died defending our freedom,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty. “If 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 hundreds of memorials like this one across the country.”

Michael Carvin, lead counsel for the case, partner at Jones Day, and First Liberty network attorney, agreed. “Americans should honor the way these Gold Star mothers and The American Legion chose to remember the service and sacrifice of the 49 fallen servicemen of Prince George’s County.”

Oral arguments in the case are expected in the early spring of 2019. To learn more, visit https://FirstLiberty.org/Bladensburg.