The House on Tuesday passed two bills endorsing the use of religious symbols at military memorials. One writes into law the propriety of displaying religious markers at war memorials while the other orders that the Interior Department add to the World War II Memorial in Washington a plaque with Franklin Roosevelt’s prayer to the nation on D-Day.
The first bill would codify the existing practice of allowing religious symbols at military monuments established or acquired by the federal government. It was introduced by San Diego Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter in response to a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling a year ago that a cross placed on Mount Soledad in nearby La Jolla, Calif., in 1913 was unconstitutional.
The bill, Hunter said, “ensures that Mount Soledad and any other war memorial will withstand these attacks by allowing the inclusion of all symbols of religion and personal faith on war memorials established and under the control of the federal government.” The 43-foot cross, which became a memorial to Korean War veterans and now honors all veterans, has been the center of legal challenges for more than two decades. In 2006, Congress passed a law transferring the property to the Defense Department.