WASHINGTON, April 26 -


Madam Speaker, in the quiet town of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, a 91-year-old memorial honoring hometown soldiers stands tall outside a local fire station. A stone bottom statue with a cross on top immortalizes the fallen heroes who sacrificed so much for our country. For decades, the memorial has stood in the shadows of the fire station with no complaints from local residents.

But a group of out-of-towners, not from Woonsocket, not even from Rhode Island, but from 1,000 miles away in Wisconsin, have self-righteously objected to the cross on top of the 91-year-old memorial. The antireligious hate group demands that the cross be removed. They also demand that the firefighters' prayer and angel from the Woonsocket Fire Department Web site be removed.

Madam Speaker, the firefighter prayer asks God to give them "strength to save lives" and to protect the families of the firefighters.

County officials will not succumb to the intimidation tactics of the bigoted group. The mayor has said he will not remove the cross under any circumstances because the Constitution protects the free exercise of religion whether this hate group likes it or not.

And that's just the way it is.