LONGWOOD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - It’s a simple wooden cross bears the inscription: “We will never forget their sacrifices.” It was originally part of a traveling Vietnam memorial. Some, like Longwood Mayor Joe Durso see it as a way to honor veterans.
“It's a historical honor that was bestowed on those folks,” Durso says, “so we believe it has every right to be in city hall.”
But others, like Joseph Richardson, with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says it's a tribute to Christianity that has no place in a government building.
“It gives the impression that the city is endorsing Christianity by having that cross there,” says Richardson, “they could just as easily have that saying on a silhouette of a soldier or something like that, and that wouldn't endorse Christianity.”
After the memorial finished touring, the local artist donated it to the city. The mayor says that's where it'll stay.
“We absolutely believe the cross should stay in City Hall,” Durso says, “it was really a generous donation from a veteran who lives in the City of Longwood.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation wants it gone. The Wisconsin-based group sent a letter to Longwood, saying it's a "government endorsement of Christianity," and a "blatant violation" of the separation of church and state. Richardson says it's an American ideal that all veterans fought for.
“Not all veterans would agree with having it there,” Richardson says, “we have many veterans who are members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.”
The group wants the cross moved to private property. The mayor calls this a tempest in a teapot.