The complaint of a single citizen caused a city council in Iowa to remove a memorial to soldiers that consists of a silhouette of a kneeling soldier and a cross, reports say.
On Monday, November 2, the city council of Knoxville, Iowa voted three to two to remove the memorial display to private property to avoid a possible lawsuit.
Knoxville mayor Brian Hatch told the media that the memorial was placed in the city’s Young Park without explicit permission by city officials.
“The city did not go take it down because at the point we didn’t feel like it had any more significance than as a monument to honor the veterans,” Hatch said.
But when a single citizen called city hall to complain about the religious display on public property, and insisted that the display violates the separation of church and state, city officials called a vote.
Mayor Hatch now says that a bronze statue to veterans will be placed in the park and that the silhouette display was only meant as a temporary thing while funds were raised for the permanent statue.
Of the silhouette display, AMVETS Post 63 Spokesman Don Zoutte said, “Our original plan was to put this up when we got the money, and we just got the money.”
Zoutte also promised that the official memorial would be not be religious.
“It’ll be a true memorial to everybody, not just one. There`s no religious connotation to it. There’s no black, white, green. No race, creed, color designation, no gender designation,” he said. “It is pretty PC,” he said.
Still, an attorney for the man who erected the silhouette display says that there wasn’t anything illegal about it and that it was a shame that the city knuckled under to a single complainer.
“The Supreme Court just recently in the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial case made it very clear that crosses, when they’re part of a veteran’s memorial, depict the thousands of other crosses that mark American graves across the world, ” said Roger Byron of Liberty Institute.
“It is unfortunate that the AmVets felt pressured to change their memorial to fallen veterans. The Kneeling Soldier memorial is perfectly lawful, and in keeping with military history and tradition. As a veteran myself, it is disheartening to see the very Constitution all American service members swear to support and defend be twisted and used against them
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com