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Group confident Md. cross memorial will stay

Thursday - 9/20/2012, 7:45am  ET

The Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Md., was dedicated to Prince George's County veterans killed in World War I. (Courtesy of Prince George's County Government)

WASHINGTON - A local landmark that stands at a major intersection in Maryland remains at the center of a constitutional debate.

The Memorial Peace Cross honoring World War I veterans from Prince George's County has stood for nearly 90 years, but the American Humanist Association says the cross is an unconstitutional use of a religious symbol on public land.

The cross is on Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission land at Baltimore Avenue and Bladensburg Road in Bladensburg. The D.C.-based atheist advocacy group filed a formal complaint last month.

But Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for the nonprofit Liberty Institute, says his organization will fight any attempt to take down the 40-foot cross. He says it's no different from other World War I-era memorials that also feature crosses.

"The fact that these memorials all exist and they have existed for this long period of time without complaint, they will be upheld by the court," says Sasser.

Sasser is working with the American Legion, and maintains the cross serves a secular purpose.

The cross was dedicated in 1925.

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WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow Kate and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)