Grieving mom takes down cross after group complains; six more appear

Photo credit: The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Under pressure from a secular organization, a grieving California mother removed her son’s memorial — a five-foot cross placed on the side of a road where he was killed in 2012.

But the mom wasn’t alone in her sad task. On Thursday, others left crosses where hers once stood, according to The Riverside Press-Enterprise.

AnnMarie Devaney agreed to remove the cross, after receiving a letter from the Washington, D.C.-based American Humanist Association. She had placed the memorial on the Lake Elsinore roadside after a car struck and killed her 19-year-old son, Anthony.

“It’s so petty and sad that they have to complain over removing a cross,” she said. “It’s his personal preference that he was Christian. What’s wrong with having a cross up?”

Among those who came to help was Riverside resident Doug Johnson.

“They said they have to take that one down,” Johnson told The Press-Enterprise. “But they didn’t say anything about putting another one up.”

Johnson made the 30-mile trip with his daughter, carrying six hand-made crosses, smaller than Devaney’s and each painted with statements like, “What if this was your child?”

Also in attendance was Laurie Howanec, the stepmother of the boy who drove the car that struck Anthony. Until that day, the two women had never met.

“I have no problem having a cross here,” she said, according to The Press-Enterprise. “It’s just what we do around here. There’s crosses all around here.”

This wasn’t the first time the American Humanist Association was successful in getting rid of a memorial in Lake Elsinore. The Press-Enterprise reported:

The association’s demand letter dated March 4 came a week after a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the group’s legal challenge to Lake Elsinore’s proposed veterans memorial. That monument would have depicted a soldier kneeling in front of crosses and Stars of David.

The group filed the veterans lawsuit in June.

People grieve life’s losses in different ways. Some immerse themselves in their work, some look for solace at the bottom of a bottle, and others choose to erect memorials to honor their loved ones. Of the three, the last is probably the least hazardous to one’s health — and deserves our respect.


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