Vol. 19 No. 10 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
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It Pays to Complain
"Not This Time!"
Alice Shiver and Roger Cleveland, who are siblings, stand next to a memorial to the USS Talladega in Talladega, Ala. They interceded to ensure the memorial would remain secular. Their activism prevented the county from placing the wording, "Please pray for peace," on the back of the monument. "A government capable of doing this can also tell citizens not to pray, when not to pray and where not to pray," adds Alice. Photos by Hank Shiver.
By Alice Cleveland Shiver
Roger Cleveland and I were recently in the right place at the right time, the meeting of the Talladega County Commission. The USS Talladega Reunion Committee was asking the commission for $3,000 toward sidewalk construction for the USS Talladega Memorial that was to be erected on the Courthouse Square.
The USS Talladega was an attack transport ship that served during WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, receiving seven battle stars. The ship was named for our county, and a reunion for all former crewmembers was to be held in September.
Although Roger and I had rather honor peace than war, our attention was captured by the proposed placement of the words, "Before you leave this place please pray for peace," on the reverse of the monument.
Both Roger and I contacted our county commissioners and the probate judge who happened to be on the Reunion Committee. We wrote letters and made phone calls to the aforementioned persons and requested a place on the agenda of the next commission meeting. We both voiced our opposition to any taxpayer money being spent to help fund the placement of a monument bearing a religious edict on government property. Roger assured the commission that it would cost Talladega County a lot more than $3,000 if the planned proposal were implemented.
As you can see, the reverse of the monument is a tabula rasa. It is a secular tribute to a secular cause. Government was kept free from religious encroachment. As Roger said, "Not this time!"
December 2002 Excerpts