ROSELLE PARK — Artwork erected in front of the Roselle Park Public Library has permanently been removed in response to a lawsuit filed by a group who believed it violated the separation of church and state.

According to, the Borough Council voted unanimously on Thursday. The sculpture depicts a soldier kneeling in front of a grave and a cross. The American Humanist Association filed the lawsuit after asking officials to consider removing it.

Mayor Carl Hokanson told the council that the memorial will be displayed at the business of the person who donated it to the borough. The American Legion also asked for a similar memorial, according to Hokanson.

During the vote, Hokanson, who was named in the suit, recused himself from the vote as did Councilwoman Charlene Storey, whose husband had first complained about the sculpture.

Gregory D. Storey wrote in an Aug. 2 letter that the memorial, which could be acceptable  if placed on church or other private grounds, "is unacceptable in memorials placed on public property. It singles out one religion and amounts to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion."

American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt in August said that he believes the display sends a message that "our brave, non-Christian service members are somehow less worthy of honor and respect.”

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