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State senators write brief in support of Bladensburg's Peace Cross

A bipartisan group of Maryland state senators has expressed support for a cross-shaped World War I monument in Bladensburg whose fate is being determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nearly 100-year-old, 40 foot-tall Peace Cross in the Prince George’s community honors the men from the county who died in World War I, and is maintained by a state parks commission. The American Humanist Association has sued, arguing the cross violates the U.S. Constitution’s required separation between church and state.

The case is being heard by the Supreme Court, and its decision could affect memorials across the country.

Supporters have said the cross shape was chosen because it was on grave markers used in American cemeteries overseas, and not for religious purposes. State officials, including Gov. Larry Hogan, have supported the design.

In the amicus brief filed Thursday, the senators argued that the cross should be allowed to stay given its meaning to the community.

“The Peace Cross is a prominent shared civic space central to the communal life of Bladensburg and Prince George’s County,” according to a statement from the group.

The group said the history of the monument is also “important to the communal identity” of the community, and that it is “an architecturally significant monument and removing it would deprive Bladensburg and Prince George’s County of a historic artistic creation.”

The bipartisan group of senators is composed of nclude President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Gail Bates, Joanne C. Benson, Ulysses Currie, James “Ed” DeGrange Sr., Katherine Klausmeier, Douglas Peters, Victor Ramirez, Justin Ready, James Rosapepe, Bryan Simonaire, William C. Smith Jr. and Steve Waugh.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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