Memorial Day crosses for fallen soldiers removed after single complaint
– The Washington Times – Tuesday, May 24, 2016
A Memorial Day display featuring dozens of white crosses to honor fallen soldiers was removed from public property in Georgia after someone complained.
The 79 handmade crosses in Hiram were meant to represent the 79 Paulding County residents who died in America’s wars, officials told Fox News.
Hours after the crosses were posted along Highway 92, an unnamed resident called the office of City Manager Barry Atkinson and asked whether a Christian display was appropriate.
“They asked were all those fallen soldiers Christian, and the answer to that was not, they obviously weren’t,” Mr. Atkinson said, a local ABC News affiliate reported. “It opened our eyes that we missed something here, and we immediately took corrective action.”
He said the caller offered to make a donation if the city decided to build a new memorial.
“If Hiram was willing to do a permanent veterans memorial, they offered to make a cash contribution, so I wouldn’t say they were really mad,” Mr. Atkinson said.
The crosses, planned and approved by Hiram Mayor Teresa Philyaw, were taken down Friday.
“It was never about religion — it was just to honor them,” Ms. Philyaw told Fox News Tuesday. “I was devastated when it had to come down.
“At the time, it never, ever crossed my mind about the religious factor in it,” she said. “The cross is a ‘rest in peace’ symbol to me.”
Many Hiram residents felt the same way, and voiced their concerns during a city council meeting Tuesday night. The council voted unanimously to put the crosses back up.
“We just really would love to think this person will understand that it was never a religious thing, it was just to honor these people who died for him and for all of us,” Ms. Philyaw said.