Citizens of Knoxville, Iowa, made a bold statement last week. They were upset over the Knoxville City Council’s decision regarding a veterans memorial that was located on the grounds of Young’s Park, within the Knoxville city limits.
The monument, which depicts a soldier in silhouette kneeling before a grave marked by a simple cross, had raised the ire of an atheist group, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The letter the Knoxville City Council received from AU read:
“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government bodies from promoting religion on public land, including through the display of Latin crosses—‘the preeminent symbol of Christianity’.
Please remove the Latin cross from government property.”
Veterans and other Knoxville residents saw things differently, however. Mayor Brian Hatch was surprised to receive the letter:
“I’m shocked by the reaction of this. There are several of these around town. You see them all over the place.”
Citizen and veteran Doug Goff, who later attended a rally in support of the monument, said:
“For me, I think that the cross represents a headstone, and then the soldier is commemorating a fallen hero. Would you go to Arlington National Cemetery and ask to take down those crosses? No. Who would? There are millions of those there and we’ve got one.”
Local residents showed support for the memorial and made it clear that they expected city officials to respect that.
So when the City Council voted on Monday to remove the memorial, the city voted on Tuesday to remove the Council.
Many felt the city’s vote was directly related to the council’s decision.
Supporters of the memorial realize that the council members they voted out will still be serving until January, but it doesn’t look like they will be giving up on their cause anytime soon.
And in doing so, it seems they have reminded us what the electoral process is all about.