The American Legion, ADF, LLI Launch National Effort to Defend Veterans' Memorials
Contact: Ramona Joyce, The American Legion, 202-263-2982, 202-445-1161 cell; Greg Scott, Alliance Defense Fund, 480-444-0020
WASHINGTON, May 24 /Christian Newswire/ -- As Americans prepare for the Memorial Day holiday, The American Legion, Alliance Defense Fund, and Liberty Legal Institute today launched a national effort to defend and protect America's veterans' memorials from potential legal attacks from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union. The joint announcement was made during at news conference at the National Press Club.
"One person's agenda shouldn't diminish the sacrifice made by America's veterans and their families," said ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice-President of Allied Attorney Support and Coordination Joe Infranco. "Despite the claims from the ACLU and others, crosses on veterans' memorials have been under attack. One only needs to look at what's happened at Mt. Soledad and in the Mojave Desert. Americans want these memorials to be protected."
ADF and The American Legion have been involved in legal efforts to defend the cross memorial at Mt. Soledad in San Diego and the Mojave Desert Cross in southern California against ACLU-led efforts to have them removed. Both memorials honor American military veterans.
In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that an atheist's 17-year-old lawsuit seeking to tear down the cross at Mt. Soledad be declared moot (www.telladf.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3980). Despite that, the ACLU has again filed suit against the memorial in an effort to have the cross removed. A federal court also granted a motion filed by the ACLU that resulted in an order to cover the Mojave Desert Cross so that no one can view it (www.telladf.org/news/story.aspx?cid=4067).
"Stamping out these symbols of sacrifice is the first step to forgetting who's kept America free and what's made America great," said Infranco. "ADF, The American Legion, and Liberty Legal are joining together to ensure that we will never forget the sacrifice made by so many for our precious freedoms--including the freedom to honor our fallen heroes as we so choose."
Past National American Legion Commander Tom Bock, representing National Commander Paul Morin who was on travel overseas, announced a concurrent national campaign to pass legislation to plug a legal loophole that enables judges to award millions of dollars to ACLU and other attorneys seeking to remove religious symbols from memorials and other public venues.
"During the last Congress, The American Legion launched a national awareness campaign to pass the Public Expression of Religion Act, known as PERA," Bock said. "It passed overwhelmingly in the House but its companion bill was introduced late in the 109th Congress without enough time to get a floor vote in the Senate. Today, its successor – The Veterans' Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expression of Religion Protection Act of 2007 has been introduced in both chambers – H.R. 725 in the House and S. 415 in the Senate. This time, The American Legion, ADF and Liberty Legal Institute are joined together to engage America to make this new PERA the law of the land."
In addition to identifying and cataloging war memorials across the United States to create a comprehensive national data base, Bock said that in the coming months, Legionnaires across America will be reaching out to all Americans to "educate and activate" them to demand that Congress pass the legislation.
ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation. The American Legion is the nation's largest veterans' service organization, representing 2.7 million wartime veterans.