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VICTORY: Park Service Rescinds Ban on Memorial Day Service

Today, First Liberty Institute and the international law firm McGuireWoods LLP announced that the National Park Service has granted a permit to the Knights of Columbus Petersburg Council 694 allowing the Knights annual Memorial Day Mass service in the Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.  The Knights have held the service at the park every year since at least the 1960s. 

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“We are grateful to the NPS for allowing the Knights to hold their service this Memorial Day,” said John Moran, Partner at McGuireWoods. 

Roger Byron, Senior Counsel at First Liberty, added, “The Knights are thrilled that they will be able to exercise their religious beliefs and keep this honorable tradition alive.  We appreciate the tremendous support of Governor Youngkin and Attorney General Miyares in this case.”

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Founded almost 150 years ago in the United States, the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal service order with over 2 million members worldwide. One long-standing way the Knights have lived out their faith and their patriotism is by holding Memorial Day masses to honor and pray for the nation’s fallen soldiers.  Until last year, the Knights had always held a Memorial Day mass within the Poplar Grove National Cemetery, and the mass (or a prayer service when a priest was not available) had been celebrated there every year without incident since at least the 1960s.  But last year, for the first time, the NPS denied the Knights a permit to hold the service in the cemetery, citing a new policy that designates “religious services” as prohibited “demonstrations.” 

A lawsuit against NPS filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by First Liberty Institute and the international law firm McGuireWoods LLP was dismissed after an agreement to allow the service was reached.

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