The post office in Pittsburg, Kansas, took down a "God Bless America" banner on Jan. 27 in response to a complaint from an out-of-state foundation that argued the banner's presence violated the separation of church and state. Local residents were reportedly not happy about the banner's removal.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted the post office after a Pittsburg resident filed a complaint.
FFRF has been involved in similar recent campaigns around the U.S. to remove symbols of religion from government property, including the phrase "In God We Trust" on police vehicles and on the nation's currency.
"We're very pleased that the post office took the right steps to separate church and state and abide by the post office regulations," FFRF legal fellow Madeline Ziegler said, according to The Joplin Globe.
"Employees are free to ask God to bless America all they want on their own time," Zieglar told KOAM. "The problem comes when they ask their government employer to endorse their personal religious beliefs by plastering them on the side of the federal building."
The banner has reportedly hung outside the Pittsburg post office since just after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"Each one of us put a screw in to represent that we put it up there and what we felt for the country,” said Doug Brisendine, a former marine and retired letter carrier.
He said the group who put up the banner many years ago did not consider that the wording might offend somebody, The Joplin Globe reports.
“We wanted something that was short and to the point," he said. "We really felt sorry for the victims and their families. We thought this would show we cared."
Other residents displayed less nostalgia over the banner's past, and more anger at the fact that it had been removed.
Ruth Wegner, whose husband worked at the post office for 20 years, said she was infuriated when she watched the banner come down.
"It tore my heart out," Wegner said.
Another resident, Janet Butler, deemed the removal of the banner "ridiculous."
“If someone doesn’t like it, don’t look at it," she said.