Memorial: 'A cross on government land is a violation of the constitution'

COOS BAY, Ore. -- A group that thinks it's unconstitutional for a Vietnam memorial with a cross to be displayed in a local park is standing their ground, but residents are too.

Landy Marshall never expected the cross to be an issue. "44 years ago? Not a chance, not a chance," he said.

He helped put the memorial here in 1972, after serving in the Vietnam War.

Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is threatening to sue the city.

KCBY News contacted Rebecca Markert of the group, to get their side of the story. "The issue is a sectarian symbol like a cross on government land is a violation of the constitution," she said. "The Bill of Rights exists to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority."

KCBY News also contacted the Coquille man who brought the cross to the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, but he refused to comment.

A lot of people KCBY News spoke with don't have a problem with it.

Mario Castro says the statue is far from offensive. "So, I'm not religious, I'm not Christian or anything, but I come here and walk and it's like a nice statue, and it doesn't offend me in any sort of way."

Marshall says he doesn't even see it as a Christian symbol. "It does not mean Christianity. I didn't put it there because I'm religious," he said. "It's a marker that says here's someone who passed, who has died, who suffered and died."

To avoid a lawsuit, the group has told the city they can either change the memorial or move it to private property.

Residents are being encouraged to voice their opinion at a public meeting at the Coos Bay Public Library on April 2.