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Touching Tribute Or Too Religious? 9/11 Memorial Stirs Controversy In N.J.

The Planned Memorial Features A Beam With A Cross Cut Into It

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PRINCETON, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — Elected officials in a New Jersey town are concerned that a 9/11 memorial may violate the law.

A cross that was cut into a steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center is all that stands in the way of a 9/11 memorial in Princeton, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.

“I don’t look at it as a religious issue. I am Jewish. I look at it as a piece of history and really a form of really art,” Deputy Fire Chief Roy James said.

The beam was the only one offered to Princeton which lost nine people during the September 11 attacks.

American Atheists called it a religious symbol and that putting it on public land near a Revolutionary War memorial violates the separation of church and state.

“If they put it there they are breaking the law. And yes, American Atheists will take all legal actions including a lawsuit to stop it from happening,” said American Atheists spokesman Dave Silverman.

Princeton officials are concerned about the threat of a lawsuit and have held off on approving the plan.

American Atheists said that they are not opposed to the memorial and would support it as long as the cross is hidden from view.

“Placing the religious symbols on public land and excluding others is clearly illegal and unconstitutional,” Silverman said.

Deputy Chief James argued that the cross tells a story.

“If we hide it we take it then you’re taking someone’s story away. You’re taking someones life that may have been lost that day and your taking it for granted,” he said.

James isn’t the only one who feels that way.

“That should remain there in memory of those we lost,” said Joe in South Brunswick.

Both sides are working to find a solution. The memorial is estimated to cost more than $70-thousand. James is trying to raise the money through private donations.

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