“Bladensburg WW1 Veterans Memorial,” under Judicial Threat

National threat, as decision could trigger the removal and destruction of memorials across America

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today declared unconstitutional the historic, cross-shaped Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial in Maryland.

A three-judge panel ruled that the 90-year-old war memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The memorial has stood since 1925 in honor of 49 Bladensburg, Maryland men who sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom during WWI. The decision reverses a ruling by a federal district court (the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland) that found the memorial to be constitutional. The district court cited the historic use of the cross as a traditional military symbol of courage, sacrifice, and remembrance.

The law firms of Jones Day and First Liberty Institute represent The American Legion in defending the Memorial. The lawsuit against the Memorial was filed by the American Humanist Association.


“Today’s decision sets dangerous precedent by completely ignoring history, and it threatens the removal and destruction of veterans memorials across America,” said Hiram Sasser, Deputy Chief Counsel for First Liberty. Similar memorials stand in Arlington National Cemetery.

Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO & Chief Counsel for First Liberty, said, “This decision is shocking and wrong. We, along with The American Legion, will not stop until this is reversed. We will be going directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.”