The Freedom From Religion Foundation erected its monument to “Atheists in Foxholes” in 1999 at Lake Hypatia, Alabama. FFRF dedicated its second monument at the Rose Zerwick Memorial Garden and Courtyard adjoining Freethought Hall's new entrance.
The monument is dedicated to the many members of the military who were “atheists in foxholes,” as well as to all freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, and skeptics of any persuasion) who serve in the U.S. military.
The monument reads:
“In memory of ATHEISTS IN FOXHOLES and the countless FREETHINKERS who have served this country with honor and distinction.
“Presented by the national Freedom From Religion Foundation with hope that in the future humankind may learn to avoid all war.”
Foundation president Anne Nicol Gaylor originally proposed an “Atheists in Foxholes" monument to replace a cross on public property in San Diego.
The Foundation’s formal bid was rejected in favor of religious bidders.
Pat Cleveland invited the Foundation to erect its own monument on land donated by the Cleveland family in rural Alabama, as part of a freethought park. Pat is president of the Alabama Freethought Association, a Foundation chapter which also hosts the national Foundation’s southern Freethought Hall and auditorium near Talladega. The monument was formally dedicated at the chapter’s annual July 4th gala in 1999. To commemorate this special occasion, Alice Shiver read the following poem which she wrote:
Atheists in Foxholes
Atheists in foxholes, some say they are myths,
Creations of the mind who just don’t exist.
Yet, they answered the call to defend, with great pride.
With reason their watchword, they bled and they died.
They took Saratoga from the British crown,
Secured America’s freedom at the Battle of Yorktown.
From Sumter to Appomattox, fields flowed with their blood.
When the cannons grew silent, the flag proudly stood.
From the Marne to the Argonne, in trenches and tanks,
They defeated the Germans -- the whole world gave thanks.
They were bombed at Pearl Harbor, fought on to Berlin.
Many freethinking women served along with the men.
Still war keeps erupting -- Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
Where is the peace that eludes people so?
It is broken by tyrants who bear crosses and creeds,
That overshadow reason with hate and cruel deeds.
So atheists prevail until your work is complete.
Mothers mourn, children cry, and bigots plan your defeat.
By air, land, and sea, you answer freedom’s call.
Without god or faith, you seek liberty for all.
“The membership of the Freedom From Religion Foundation includes many veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam," Gaylor noted, "and we also have members who put their lives on the line as police officers and firefighters.”
Nonreligious veterans are encouraged to visit this impressive monument recognizing their commitment and valor, in its pretty woodland setting.