BLADENSBURG, MD — A long tradition of using crosses to honor those who died in war to protect their fellow citizens' freedom could be at risk.
It's another reason why US Supreme Court justices are crucial because, right now, only the highest court can reverse a lower court's decision that could affect war monuments across the nation.
Dominated by a large stone cross, the memorial to Maryland men killed in World War I, known as Peace Cross, has stood in Bladensburg, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC since 1925.
But a federal appeals court has ruled it unconstitutional, so that memorial's main feature may have to come down.
Explaining why, First Liberty Institute lawyer Jeremy Dys told CBN News, "It's a cross-shaped memorial on public property."
Dys warned if the US Supreme Court doesn't intervene, not only could Bladensburg lose its cross monument, but that lower court's ruling could have far-reaching repercussions across America.
"Not only will this monument have to be razed to the ground, but so will any monument that bears religious imagery or language on the side of it as well," the religious rights lawyer predicted.
That could include features in Arlington National Cemetery and maybe even its most famous site.
"The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a World War I monument as well," Dys noted. "And it says on the side, very famously, 'Here lies a soldier known but to God.' Who knows where this would end?"
That's why religious rights lawyers like Dys have fought alongside the American Legion for years to preserve the Bladensburg memorial, and by extension, many others.
"These are important reminders of the great cost that freedom comes to us in," Dys argued. "That is, real lives have been sacrificed in the service of freedom. We should not desecrate their memory by tearing down their gravestone."
Carved into the cross at the Bladensburg memorial in big letters are four words: Courage, Endurance, Valor and Devotion.
Dys wondered if America will now show enough devotion to the memory of these fallen soldiers to assure this monument to their ultimate sacrifice endures.
"It's almost spitting at them in the eye to even suggest that we would tear down this memorial," Dys argued.
First Liberty Institute is petitioning the US Supreme Court to undo what the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has done by ruling the cross-shaped monument unconstitutional.
"And really the Supreme Court of the United States is the last hope for this memorial," Dys warned.