Veterans Resurrect Mojave Cross
|Veterans Resurrected Mojave Cross|
I loved seeing the liberal Huff Post reporting on Veterans Day, 11/11/2012, that the Mojave Cross Starts New Life On Veterans Day With Dedication Ceremony:
A war memorial cross that once stood on a rocky hilltop in a national park before being deemed unconstitutional and ordered removed was resurrected on Veterans Day at the stunningly stark Mojave desert site, capping a landmark case for veterans fighting similar battles on public lands.Citizens Link summed up the event best:
Henry Sandoz, who cared for the original 1930s cross as part of a promise to a dying World War I veteran, rededicated a new, 7-foot steel cross on the same hilltop before more than 100 people. The site is now in private hands as part of a land swap with the National Park Service that ended the longstanding legal dispute, which had become entangled in the thorny issues of patriotism and religion.
"Judges and lawyers may have played their roles, but it was the veterans who earned this memorial, and it is for them it rises once more," said attorney Hiram Sasser of the Texas-based Liberty Institute, which represented veterans in the legal fight.
The settlement approved by a federal judge in April permitted the Park Service to turn over the acre of land known as Sunrise Rock to a Veteran of Foreign Wars post in Barstow and the Veterans Home of California-Barstow in exchange for five acres of donated property elsewhere in the 1.6 million acre preserve, about a four hour-drive east of Los Angeles.
The donated land was owned by Sandoz and his wife, Wanda, of Yucca Valley.
Sandoz, 73, has cared for the memorial as a promise to World War I veteran, Riley Bembry, who with other shell-shocked vets went to the desert to help heal and erected a wooden cross on Sunrise Rock in 1934. It was later replaced with a cross made of steel pipes.
Then Sunrise Rock became part of the Mojave National Preserve in 1994, putting the Christian symbol on public land.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2001 on behalf of a retired Park Service employee who argued the cross was unconstitutional on government property because of the separation of church and state, and federal courts ordered it removed.
Congress stepped in and ordered the land swap in 2003, but the courts rejected the transfer. The issue made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in April 2010 refused to order the cross removed. . . .
“Now the VFW is the proud owner of a one-acre postage stamp in the middle of the Mojave Preserve,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute’s director of litigation. . . . Sasser spoke during Sunday’s rededication ceremony, saying that this Veterans Day marks the conclusion of the fight for the Mojave Veterans Memorial Cross.God Bless our World War Veterans who have this singular cross in the Mojave Dessert to honor all of them. Anyone know why there was never a National WWI memorial built before the building of a WWII memorial? There is a memorial in D.C. honoring the 499 D.C. residents killed in World War I.
“On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the cross rose again like a phoenix under the desert sun as the VFW raised and rededicated the memorial once more,” he told the crowd of nearly 200 people. “The veterans, through their own service and sacrifice for a good greater than themselves, earned this moment.”
The cross is the only World War I memorial designated by Congress as a national monument.
Tags: cross, FRC, Mount Soledad, California, veterans memorial cross, resurrected, WWI veterans To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!