Officials in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are launching a fundraising effort for the restoration of the Bladensburg Peace Cross, a 40-foot-tall granite monument commemorating 49 World War I servicemen and local residents who died during the conflict.
Located at the intersection of Bladensburg Road, Baltimore Avenue and Annapolis Road, the memorial — erected in 1919 — has fallen into disrepair and is in need of maintenance.
To support fundraising efforts, the county’s parks and recreation department will allow families to buy commemorative bricks inscribed with the text of their choice for installation. All proceeds from the program will go toward the memorial’s restoration.
Bricks can be bought for $500 on the Friends of the Park website.
“With a thoughtful blending of nature and structure, we make the brick program an affordable, permanent way for families and friends to tell the story of individuals who made a difference in their lives as well as within the community,” the site reads.
Inscriptions cannot exceed 18 characters including spaces, and are subject to review by park officials. Families will receive a proof within four weeks of their contribution to view before installation.
“As we honor our local heroes memorialized on the Bladensburg Peace Cross, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate our thanks by contributing to the restoration of the structure,” Maryland State Sen. Malcolm Augustine said in a news release detailing the upcoming program.
“I am pleased to purchase a brick that will be a permanent fixture of this historic memorial, in honor of the four African American soldiers listed on the Peace Cross.”
Following a First Amendment legal challenge over whether the cross’ presence on public land violated the separation of church and state, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that it could remain — allowing county and state park officials to move forward with long-sought restoration efforts.