Past National Commander Thomas L. Bock: "Help establish a national database
of veterans' memorials across America."
June 1, 2007
v National Headquarters asks The American
Legion Riders to help locate, catalog, photograph, monitor, and report real or suspected vandalism of veterans' memorials
of all sizes across the United States.
v Other groups such as the Pony Express,
Patriot Guard, Gathering of Eagles and all motorcycle organizations are also asked to participate.
v Website established to gather information
about war memorials, veterans' memorials, memorial parks and structures of all sizes dedicated to the honor of our fallen
heroes of all of America's conflicts.
Background: In March 2007, The American Legion
Riders, along with patriotic motorcycle groups from dozens of states, converged in Washington, DC to assist a group known
as "A Gathering of Eagles" to protect the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall from threatened vandalism from war
protestors. American Legion Riders have also participated in other missions designed
to protect the sanctity and dignity of many other memorials and events-even, most recently, to counter peace activists who
had threatened to disrupt the commencement exercises at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
A far more serious threat has surfaced, from self-serving groups seeking to use the threat of lawsuits and judicial
activism to cover, remove, and even destroy Veterans Memorials and other public buildings that contain religious symbolism
of any type:
- The American Civil Liberties
Union covered a cross at the World War I veterans memorial at Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert. The covering? An ugly plywood
box. The Christian symbol is offensive, the ACLU claims.
- "The co-president of the Freedom
from Religion Foundation has said his group is looking for the right time and the right court to remove all religious monuments.
He calls them 'offensive and unconstitutional.'
taken by The American Legion: A coalition involving the
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), Liberty Legal Institute (LLI) and The American Legion aims to put an end to such affronts.
have approximately a thousand attorneys nationwide who are offering free legal representation to any town, municipality that
has a legal challenge brought to tear down one of these memorials," explained Douglas Napier with ADF.
The groups will fight challenges to memorials in courts
and also press for federal legislation. The Legion will ask members of 14,000 posts across the U.S. to help to identify every
veterans' memorial in the country.
"We've got a Web site that we're going to have them register all the veterans memorials across the country
so we have a catalog of them," said Tom Bock, Past National Commander, speaking on behalf of current National
Commander Paul Morin, who is traveling in Europe visiting American military bases.
The American Legion National Headquarters (www.legion.org) has joined forces with the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org) and Liberty Legal Institute (www.libertylegal.org) to defend and protect our nation's war memorials from increasing legal attacks from the ACLU and its allies, such as Freedom
from Religion Foundation, and the American Atheists.
Through this project, the American Legion will seek to identify
and catalogue war memorials across the United States that might be targeted by the ACLU and its allies. With the aid
of its members, ALR Chapters, and local posts, the American Legion will remain vigilant in monitoring any threats to these
memorials and will alert the Alliance Defense Fund of any attempts to remove or destroy these symbols of sacrifice.
American Legion Riders are encouraged, as part of their normal weekend riding, charity
runs, and other organized rides, to take along digital cameras and notebooks and to locate, photograph, and report the condition
of all war veteran memorials located within range of their normal rides.
What can Riders do?
- Catalog and report the location and condition of war memorials of all types,
sizes, and condition to your Department Headquarters and to the website report form.
- Provide a picture (park your motorcycle in view to provide scale).
- Report all vandalism, damage, or disrepair to the proper authorities.
- Monitor and stay aware of threats of vandalism or legal challenges.
- Be prepared to report any threatened legal action to The American Legion.
are asked to find and report the location and condition of all known memorials directly to http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/memorials/report.aspx, which has been established at the Alliance Defense Fund for this purpose.
copy of all reports to this registry should also be forwarded to each state's Department Headquarters.
registry makes it easier for the groups to keep an eye out for legal challenges to religious symbols," Hiram
Sasser, LLI's director of litigation, said. "It's the least they can do to protect the memory of those who fought and died for
"To dishonor their service and dishonor their courage and valor by tearing down their memorials," he said, "is absolutely
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