The cross at the Belle Plaine veterans memorial can come back

The cross had been taken down after pressure from an out-of-state nonprofit.
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The cross that was removed from a Minnesota veterans memorial after pressure from an out-of-state nonprofit is on its way back to being on display.

Last month, Belle Plaine said the Latin cross – part of a silhouette grave marker, that also includes a soldier kneeling with a rifle – had to be taken down. That came after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (a nonprofit based in Wisconsin that focuses on the separation of church and state) said a citizen complained about the religious symbol being on public property, and pushed the city council to nix it.

The decision was met with frustration from the community, including a group calling itself Defend Veterans Park, which said the veterans "deserve better than to be pushed around by a few people who are offended by a soldier kneeling before a cross."

But in the weeks since, people have been working to find a solution that lets the cross go back up, and the city council took one up Monday night.

What was the proposal?

Explained by Defend Veterans Park, the proposal would create a "dedicated piece of land" the government sets aside for free speech by its citizens, specifically to honor veterans. (Here's text of the proposal.)

It would lay out guidelines for memorials that could go up, including size and materials. Works could be requested to go there only by groups with at least half their members living in Belle Plaine.

It would let the cross go back up at Veterans Memorial Park, as part of the free speech space.

The vote

That was apparently enough for the city council, which approved the plan by a 3-2 vote, the Defend Veterans Park group says.

"Large numbers and well crafted arguments make a difference. Great job everyone!" the group wrote in an update Tuesday.

It won't go back up immediately though.

Bell Plaine Vet's Club says the policy needs to be put in place first. That's slated to happen at the Feb. 21 city council meeting.

" BUT IT IS GOING BACK ON!" they wrote, "looking at the last weekend in February, we will post here as soon as we have a day and time so those that want to be there can! We thank you all for the overwhelming support! NOW LET'S SUPPORT OUR CITY!"

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