Pittsburg, Kansas is America. My mother is from there; our family used to spend a couple of weeks there every summer. More than most places, in Pittsburg residents love God, know their neighbors, and go to church. It’s the kind of town where people still leave their doors unlocked at night. It’s the kind of place that puts up a “God Bless America” banner at the local Post Office. And now it is the kind of place that takes that banner down.
The Joplin Globe reports the post office removed the banner after the Wisconsin – based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed complaints. With more than 22,500 members, the foundation has also been busy trying to get Missouri sheriffs to remove “In God We Trust” bumper stickers from department vehicles and “In God We Trust” from U.S. coins and currency.
Pittsburg postal workers paid for the 12-foot-long vinyl banner after the 2001 terrorist attacks. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Post Office says the postal service took the banner down because policy prohibits the placement of notices on postal property unless they’re official government notices.
But local residents have responded like I thought they might. Martin Dickson said, “It’s a shame that 23,000 people can control the desires of millions of other Americans. I recognize the separation and the reason for it. But I also realize that we need God’s blessing more now than ever.” Dickson, owner of Jayhawk Signs & Graphics, has responded by cutting prices on making “God Bless America” banners for residents to purchase for home use. Resident Stephen Hipfl bought a banner to put up at his house. “We’re Americans,” he said. “We’re soldiers.”
The next time you find yourself in southeast Kansas, drop by the wonderful town of Pittsburg. Check out Lincoln Park and the huge swimming pool there, where my brother and I used to hang out so many years ago. And while you’re there, look for the “God Bless America” banners. They aren’t hard to find – they’re everywhere.