A new monument in Madison, Wisconsin contradicts an old jingoistic slogan that proclaims no secular person could, or would, give their lives on the battlefield in the name of the United States.
The old aphorism “there are no atheists in foxholes,” has served to spark the ire of the Freedom From Religion Foundation time and time again, so foundation members say they decided to erect a monument in front of its Madison, Wisconsin, office that offers a rebuttal.
“In memory of atheist in foxholes and the countless freethinkers who have served this country with honor and distinction. Presented with hope that in the future humankind may learn to avoid all war.”
The monument, which is more than seven feet high, and weighs over 4 tons, was carved from the same South Dakota black granite found on Mount Rushmore.
“[We] deals with so many state/church entanglements regarding all branches of the military, where substantial incursions by aggressive evangelicals have been made. This monument not only honors nonreligious veterans, but serves as a reminder to our nation that — contrary to that tired, old, untrue cliché — there are indeed many ‘atheists in foxholes,’” said the group’s co-founder, Annie Laurie Gaylor.
This isn’t the first monument erected by the the group that celebrates the roles of freethinkers in times of military conflict. At the organization’s southern headquarters in Alabama, another pro-atheist military memorial sits at the foundation’s Freethought Hall.
In discussing the role of non-believing servicemen and women throughout American history, Gaylor is convinced they don’t typically get their due. Many war memorials pay tribute to specific religion in the United States, and brandish the cross as a symbol synonymous with service, according to Gaylor.
Some sites promote “a message that only christian military are being honored…that Jewish or non-Christian and the many non-believers are not being honored for their commitment to their country,” she tells Inverse.
She says the monument serves to honor “atheists and other freethinkers who served their country with distinction,” and that “the invisible non-religious who fill up a quarter of our military,” are always welcome to come visit the monument in Madison.