A school’s Pledge of Allegiance tradition that started after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has ended due to legal threats by the American Civil Liberties Union. Students at Glenview Elementary School in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, began saying “God bless America” in 2001 each morning after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. A recent letter by the ACLU’s New Jersey chapter brought the tradition to a halt.

“It never, to us, invoked any type of religious intentions. It was basically a patriotic gesture that the boys and girls were doing,” the school’s principal, Sam Sassano, told KYW Newsradio on Tuesday, CBS Philadelphia reported.

Sassano said students were never required to participate. An email was sent to parents over the weekend explaining the tradition, which honored the 2,977 victims who died in attacks perpetrated by al-Qaida. The school’s decision to stop saying “God bless America” was made to stave off a costly legal battle with the ACLU. FULL REPORT