On Tuesday, the three-member Boone County Commission in Columbia, Missouri voted unanimously to remove a memorial honoring Operation Desert Storm from the county courthouse to a private cemetery because it featured an ichthys, AKA “Jesus fish.”
Two Boone County men who died in Operation Desert Storm, Patrick Connor and Steven Farnen, were listed on the memorial, but now the county has decided to replace the memorial with another one lacking any religious symbol. In May 2014. Americans United for Separation of Church and State started a campaign against the memorial, sending a letter to the commission. In June 2014, the commission forced the ichthys to be covered, eventually attaching a stone reading, “Dedicated 1992” to cover the insignia.
Connor and Famen’s parents alerted the commission that they would accept covering the ichthys if the memorial could stay at the courthouse. Hugh Famen, Steven’s father, said, “I hate the idea. But we were willing to compromise. It looks like y’all don’t want to do anything that breaks from what y’all want.”
A backlash against the commissioners may result from their actions; two of them must run for reelection in November 2016.
Other memorials honoring slain soldiers exist at the county courthouse, including memorials marking WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.