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Memorial Day Crosses Taken Down After Residents Complain

A public Memorial Day display in Hiram, Georgia, was taken down after a number of residents took exception to its religious symbolism.

The display consisted of 79 white crosses that were there to represent the 79 Paulding County residents who lost their lives on the battlefield.

Hiram City Manager Barry Atkinson said his office received calls about whether the use of the cross was appropriate in this circumstance, since it is not likely that all of the deceased were Christians, according to WSB-TV.

"They asked were all those fallen soldiers Christian, and the answer to that was no, they obviously weren't," Atkinson said. "It opened our eyes that we missed something here, and we immediately took corrective action."

Hiram Mayor Teresa Philyaw defended the cross display, saying it was meant to be a secular memorial.

"It was never about religion," she told Fox News. "It was just to honor them. I was devastated when it had to come down."

"We wanted to make sure that they weren't forgotten," she added. "We also wanted their families to know that our hearts still bleed for them. At the time, it never, ever crossed my mind about the religious factor in it."

She described the cross as a "rest in peace symbol."

The decision to remove the memorial sparked a heated debate on social media, with some residents offering to display the crosses on private property.

"The 79 [crosses for] veterans from Paulding County who sacrificed their lives for our nation are being taken down for the Memorial Day holiday because some find it offensive," one resident wrote on Facebook, according to Fox News. "Tell that to the families of these brave veterans who died for us so we can have the freedom and shame on you, mayor of Hiram, Georgia, for caving in to their demands."

"People who are non-Christian shouldn't be offended by [the display] because they gave their lives for our country, and that's the way I look at it," another resident told WSB-TV.

City officials met May 24 to discuss a new, inclusive way to commemorate the fallen soldiers.

"Whatever the choice is, a memorial of some kind will be displayed," said Mayor Philyaw.  

Sources: WSB-TV, Fox News / Photo credit: WSB-TV

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