A national atheist group has demanded the removal of a small cross from a veterans memorial at a public park in Liberty, Ind., dedicated to World War II veterans.
U.S. Army veteran Wendell Bias saw the offending cross at Whitewater Memorial State Park park this summer, and sent a letter of complaint to the Department of Natural Resources. “I just thought that a memorial to veterans in a veterans’ park didn’t need to be turned into a religious shrine,” he told The Indianapolis Star.
The small white cross sits at the base of a wooden statue of a soldier and the Indiana state flag with the inscription “All gave some; Some gave all.” The statue was donated to the park, and was funded by residents and veterans’ groups — not taxpayer dollars.
Last month a national atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent a follow-up letter to the DNR demanding the cross be removed, because it promotes Christianity and “will send a message that the government only cares about the deaths of Christian soldiers,” the Star reported.
The sculptor of the statue, Dayle K. Lewis, told the Star he added the cross because the bottom of the statue was plain, and he wanted to communicate that the soldier is standing over a grave.
But Bias noted that not every veteran is a Christian. “I’ve been to Arlington a couple times, and I’ve been to France to that cemetery over there,” he told the Star. “While they’re mostly crosses, they’re not all crosses.”
A local Korean War veteran, Bob Napier, sent a petition to the DNR with 1,651 signatures saying the statue should not be moved. “We want it to be at the park that is dedicated to veterans,” he told the Star. “Vets fought for freedom, but they keep taking our freedoms away from us.”
The DNR has not decided whether to remove the cross or the statue, or to let it stand.