Posts tagged ‘Frank Buono’

March 30, 2013

Easter Services at the Resurrected Mojave Veterans Memorial Cross

by lewwaters

mojave-cross-photo02Shortly after the end of World War One, a small group of Veterans erected a plain, simple cross in the middle of the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert, far away from civilization to honor their fallen brethren.

The wooden cross erected in what was open land in 1934, sat silently in the desert, subjected to the weather, occasional vandals but maintained by those Veterans and later by friends of the Veterans.

The land was made part of a Federal Reserve in 1994 and due to deterioration of the original wooden cross, caretakers replaced it with a metal cross, somehow enraging a park ranger, Frank Buono who waited until he retired on a comfortable taxpayer paid pension, to seek the assistance of the ACLU to file a lawsuit to have it removed.

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April 25, 2012

The Cross Will Again Rise Above the Mojave Desert

by lewwaters

Back in 1934, a group of World War One Veterans traveled deep into the Mojave Desert and erected a simple Christian Cross in honor of the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by their sides. Ever since, this simple cross erected on what was then open land has been maintained by volunteers against the onslaught of weather and vandals.

The original wooden cross fell to vandals and was rebuilt out of steel pipe by Riley Bembrey, a WW1 Medic who was part of the original group who first erected the Veterans Memorial and with a lot of help from friend, Henry Sandoz.

Just prior to his death, Bembrey asked Sandoz to take care of the simple cross in the middle of nowhere, which Sandoz agreed to.

It amounted to just a simple white cross 11 miles from the nearest major highway, sitting atop Sunrise Rock in the middle of a desolate area of the Mohave Desert. To see it, you would have travel miles out of your way to find it.

For nearly 70 years, this simple cross stood in the middle of the Mojave Desert, bothering or offending no one, but offering aging WW1 veterans a place of Solace to remember old friends who died in that war.

The age of Political Correctness and the rise of atheism in the country would change all of that after the land it sat on was declared a National Preserve by the Clinton Administration in 1994.

Within a few years, Frank Buono, once the deputy superintendent of the park, filed a lawsuit protesting the cross, wanting it removed and claiming the crosses presence in the middle of a desolate desert, “[is] really inconsistent with his beliefs and he thinks that the government is, in effect, misappropriating this sacred symbol and trying to give it just a secular meaning” through his ACLU lawyer, Peter Eliasberg.

Buono claims to also be a Veteran as well as a devout Catholic.

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May 14, 2010

Anonymous Vandals Take Credit for Mojave Veterans Memorial Theft

by lewwaters

A vandal by any other name is still a vandal!

Vandals claiming to be who took it upon themselves to defy a recent United States Supreme Court ruling and remove the Mojave Veterans Memorial, erected in 1934, have sent an anonymous letter to the Barstow Desert Dispatch outlining their reasoning for committing the crime.

Anonymous letter explaining cross theft sent to Desert Dispatch

The validity of the claim is unknown, but there are indicators that this may indeed be the scumbags who planned and executed this desecration of a long-standing Veterans Memorial.

The vandals supply 15 points in their justification of this dishonorable act and I will reply to some below. You may see all 15 at the link above.

1. The cross in question was not vandalized. It was simply moved. This was done lovingly and with great care.

Removal is vandalizing, plain and simple. You do not have permission or the right to decide what Battle Weary Veterans from World War One may or may not erect to honor their fallen comrades. If, as you claim, you are a Veteran, shame on you for this egregious desecration of a Veterans Memorial and denial of others rights to remember fallen comrades as they see fit.

We fought for the rights of those we disagree with as well as those we agree with. That you decided to take it in your hands to deem what rights others may have violates everything we all fought for.

5. The cross was erected illegally on public land in 1998 by a private individual named Henry Sandoz. Since then the government has actively worked to promote the continued existence of the cross, even as it excluded other monuments from differing religions. This favoritism and exclusion clearly violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution.

The Memorial was first erected in 1934 by a group of World War One Veterans led by Riley Bembry and who wanted to honor soldiers who had perished in the ‘war to end all wars.’ He and his fellow‘doughboys’chose a simple Latin cross that was typical of many Veteran Memorials at that time. Riley asked Henry Sandoz to watch over the Memorial some time before he died in 1984. Sandoz replaced the original wooden Memorial in the 1970’s and after it was vandalized, replaced it with one constructed out of 3 inch metal pipe filled with cement, the one you decided to steal, in 1996. The land in question was not a Federal Preserve when the Memorial was first erected.

A Memorial in the form of a Cross is not necessarily religious in nature or intended only for fallen of the Christian faith.

Would this vandal take it upon himself next to enter Arlington Cemetery and remove all of the crosses on the graves of other fallen Veterans because of inserted “establishment clause?”

War Memorials and the Constitution

No other monuments from differing religions have been excluded. That was a bogus trumped up claim made to justify the view of one man, Frank Buono, to have the Memorial destroyed.

6. Anthony Kennedy desecrated and marginalized the memory and sacrifice of all those non-Christians that died in WWI when he wrote: ‘Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles — battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.’ The irony and tragedy of that statement is unique.

No, Justice Kennedy’s word might have angered you, but the symbol of the cross in Memorials has transcended religious meaning long ago. As my friend and former ACLU attorney Rees Lloyd puts it,

“Symbols have meaning in collective life. People die for them. For instance, the Flag. The Cross manifestly has a religious aspect. But, equally manifestly, it conveys a secular meaning — the meaning of selfless service and sacrifice for others, and is so understood. Universally, Beyond language barriers. In fact, there is not other symbol so universally recognized as representing selfless service and sacrifice for others, including the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life. That is how it is understood at veterans memorials, and why it is the symbol so often chosen to honor the war dead.”

Missed, by the miscreant that took it upon himself to initiate this criminal act is that Supreme Court ruling was not about the cross itself, but was over the trade of the land the cross sits on for a larger parcel of land within the Preserve passed by congress earlier. Of that, Justice Kennedy said,

“The land transfer-statute embodies Congress’s legislative judgment that this dispute is best resolved through a framework and policy of accommodation for a symbol that, while challenged under the Establishment Clause has complex meaning beyond the expression of religious views.”

With that, these vandals did not enter public land to remove a symbol, but trespassed upon private land held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to steal a symbol belonging to and revered by Veterans.

7. Justice Kennedy’s words in particular and others like them from the other Justices caused me to act.

No, your selfish, narrow-minded bigotry is what caused you to take it upon yourself to decide for upwards of 50 million Veterans what they may hold in honor.

9. Discrimination in any form is intolerable, as is hatred.

Except for your hatred of what others honor in memory of their fallen comrades as you decided to discriminate against them?

11. Despite what many people are saying, this act was definitively not anti-Christian. It was instead anti-discrimination. If this act was anti-Christian, the cross would not have been cared for so reverently. An anti-Christian response would have been to simply destroy the cross and leave the pieces in the desert.

No, it might not be “anti-Christian,” but your criminal act is definitely “anti-Veteran” and a dishonor to the very uniform you claim to have once worn and to the memory of those in whose memory the Memorial was erected.

13. If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned to Mr. Sandoz.

Your shameful crime will not go unpunished. You have taken it upon yourself to decide what others may do. You have set yourself up as the sole harbinger of what is right in defiance of the United States Supreme Court, Congress and more Veterans than you care to know about.

You quote a great man, Abraham Lincoln to justify your crime against Patriotic Americans when you say, “To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men.”

Your crime is not justifiable in any sense. You are not a Patriot or honorable person. You are the very coward you mention, a coward who sneaks onto private land traded by Veterans to honor a Memorial erected by our Grandfathers under the cover of darkness.

You have not stood up and spoken your view; you stole the rights of others to their views from the middle of the desert.

Your crime is unredeemable. It is cowardly. It is despicable.

You should surrender yourself to the appropriate authorities and return the Memorial to where it has stood for 76 years.

Then, thank God that your penalty will be at the hands of the very judicial system you decided you have the right to defy and dishonor and not at the hands of so many pissed off Veterans.

May 11, 2010

Mojave Veterans Memorial Torn Down by Vandals

by lewwaters

Where the ACLU has failed, vandals have succeeded!

The Mojave Veterans Memorial, erected in 1934 in what is now a Federal Preserve, has been a target of destruction by the ACLU and others who have no respect for Veterans or our Memorials.

Erected by Veterans of World War One in the middle of the Mojave Desert, some 11 miles from the nearest highway, it became the target of Frank Buono, a retired National Park Service employee now residing in Portland, Oregon some 1100 miles away from the simple Memorial.

Making it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, after being encased in a plywood box for several years, the Memorial gained reprieve recently when the High Court ruled 5 to 4 to overturn a lower Court ruling mandating the Memorial be destroyed since it is in the form of a Cross.

As the case was returned to the District Courts, the ACLU has stated that it still plans to argue for the memorial to be torn down.

And now, someone has seen fit to dishonor America’s Veterans by taking it upon themselves to “cut the metal bolts that attached the symbol to a rock in the sprawling desert preserve” and remove the Memorial.

Linda Slater, National Park Service spokeswoman said, “Authorities had no immediate motive for the theft [and] possible suspects range from scrap metal scavengers to ‘people with an interest in the case’.”

We are told the US Justice Department is “looking into the case,” but given recent developments from them, I hold little hope they will look very far.

Clarence Hill, the national commander of the American Legion stated, “The American Legion expects whoever is responsible for this vile act to be brought to justice. While the memorial has been attacked, the fight will continue to ensure that Veterans Memorials will remain sacrosanct.”

Rees Lloyd, a former ACLU attorney and Director, Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of The American Legion Department of California says, “This is an outrage that must not go unredressed. Has our nation been so transformed that there are now those among us who would desecrate a Veterans Memorial by tearing down a cross which was established by veterans in 1934 in the remote Mojave Desert to honor the service and sacrifice of Veterans who have made our freedom possible, especially those who have given their lives?

Has the very soul America been so changed that this could even be contemplated by anyone in America?”

In a news release from Liberty Institute, VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell, Sr said, “This was a legal fight that a vandal just made personal to 50 million Veterans, Military personnel and their families. To think anyone can rationalize the desecration of a War Memorial is sickening, and for them to believe they won’t be apprehended is very naive.”

Tradewell, himself a combat wounded Vietnam Veteran continued, “The memorial will be rebuilt and the vandals will be caught and prosecuted in federal court, since the crime occurred on government property. We hope this horrible act will highlight the importance of resolving this case quickly so that the memorial and land can be transferred to the VFW so that the service and sacrifice of all American war dead will be properly recognized and honored, as originally intended by a group of World War I VFW members 76 years ago.”

Liberty Institute is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this heinous assault on America’s Veterans Memorials.

For more information or to leave a tip, please visit http://www.donttearmedown.com/

For whoever did this, we’re coming for you.

May 2, 2010

Veterans Win One. Mojave Cross To Remain

by lewwaters

America’s Veterans had cause to rejoice this past Wednesday, April 28, 2010 as a divided US Supreme Court found for us in the long ongoing Mojave Cross case, where one disgruntled man deemed it offensive to his senses to know there was a cross erected in 1934 by World War One Veterans to honor their fallen comrades 11 miles from the nearest highway.

Lower courts ruled in favor of the ACLU and the cross has been hidden in a plywood box for some time now. Now, by a 5 to 4 decision, the simple white cross can be freed and displayed for any who desire to venture far into the Mojave Desert to see it.

We need to be vigilant as you will notice; I said it was a 5 to 4 decision. We barely won it and rest assured, anti-Veteran forces will not stop in their quest to deny us the use of such a symbol in honoring our fallen brothers and sisters.

You may download and read the 71 pages of opinion HERE if you wish.

As to the cross being solely a religious symbol, my friend Rees Lloyd, himself a former ACLU attorney who now fights for Veterans causes explained the symbolism of the Cross in veterans Memorials thusly,

“Symbols have meaning in collective life. People die for them. For instance, the Flag. The Cross manifestly has a religious aspect. But, equally manifestly, it conveys a secular meaning — the meaning of selfless service and sacrifice for others, and is so understood, universally, beyond language barriers. In fact, there is not other symbol so universally recognized as representing selfless service and sacrifice for others, including the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life. That is how it is understood at veterans memorials, and why it is the symbol so often chosen to honor the war dead.”

He continued,

“The Cross, too, has acquired a secular meaning–the meaning of goodness, of self-sacrifice for others. Tear down the Cross and you are left with the absence of any symbol adequate to honor the serve and sacrifice of veterans.”

As you can see, a Cross used to honor Veterans has far more symbolism attached to it than merely religious.

Congressman Jerry Lewis (R.Ca) added his praise by saying,

“Congress has repeatedly voted overwhelmingly to protect the Mojave Cross as a memorial to veterans and those who have died to defend our nation, never intending it to be preserved as a religious symbol. I am gratified that the Supreme Court has upheld the right and authority of Congress to seek these solutions in memory of our veterans.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor agreed with retiring Justice John Paul Stevens who spoke in dissent,

“The government has good reason for honoring all those who have rendered heroic public service regardless of creed, but it should avoid endorsement of a particular religious view in doing so.”

Clearly these 4 just don’t get that we don’t choose symbols based solely upon a religious view. Would they adopt the same attitude if the American Red Cross were challenged on their chosen symbol and force them become something like the American Red Box?

This should also be an eye-opener to us all as with Stevens retiring and left-leaning Obama desiring to stack the court with liberals who only fall back on our constitution should they be able to distort a section to deny us of another liberty, we could have lost this case just as easily and knowing the ACLU, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see some other challenge mounted to finish the destruction of one of our Memorials.

The ACLU has been accused of desiring to destroy crosses used as headstones in National Veterans cemeteries and they continue to deny that allegation.

With the over 10 year battle to destroy this simple Memorial out in the middle of the desert, I’m not too sure I trust that denial.

October 7, 2009

Mojave War Memorial, JFK Eternal Flame & The Law Of Unintended Consequences

by lewwaters

mojave-cross-photo02
JFK Eternal Flame

Long ago, Veterans of World War One suffering from the effects of mustard gas they had inhaled and to recover from physical and psychological injuries sustained, migrated to California’s Mojave Desert and its dry climate. They formed a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and in 1934 Death Valley Post 2884 erected a simple wooden cross on what is known as “sunrise rock” as it reminded them of a “doughboy” out in the middle of nowhere in what was to become the Mojave National Preserve.

The simple Memorial bore a small plaque reading, “Erected in Memory of the Dead of All Wars.”

Over the years members died off as they aged until the last survivor of VFW Post that erected the Memorial, John Riley Bembry also passed away in 1984. In 1983, Bembry asked fellow Desert Dweller, Henry Sandoz to repair and maintain the simple Memorial as it had been destroyed due to being vandalized.

In 1986 it was vandalized again with some gravesites in the area being disturbed. Sandoz, adhering to his promise to Bembry rebuilt the Memorial one more time out of pipe this time filled with concrete to discourage further vandalized.

The plaque commemorating the Memorial was never replaced.

Bembry, with no known religious affiliation, obviously saw the cross as much more than just a religious symbol. As explained to me by a learned friend,

“The Cross manifestly has a religious aspect. But, equally manifestly, it conveys a secular meaning — the meaning of selfless service and sacrifice for others, and is so understood. Universally. Beyond language barriers. In fact, there is not other symbol so universally recognized as representing selfless service and sacrifice for others, including the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life. That is how it is understood at veterans memorials, and why it is the symbol so often chosen to honor the war dead.”

Today, after being vandalized numerous times, the simple Memorial in the middle of nowhere faces total destruction if the ACLU and Frank Buono, a retired Ranger who once worked at the Mojave Preserve prevails before the US Supreme Court, after a decade long battle seeking the destruction of a 75 year-old Memorial to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.

Rising out of an incident in 1999 when a Buddhist Monk was denied permission to erect a Stupa, a Buddhist holy monument filled with Buddhist relics and other holy objects.

From the link we read of Stupa’s,

“A stupa is the most sacred monument found in all of the ancient Buddhist countries. Unique amongst all forms of sacred architecture, it is the quintessential symbol of enlightenment. Stupas are filled with sacred images, mantras and the relics of holy beings. The foundation, symmetry, orientation and contents of the stupa create incredible power to those who even look upon it. It has the potential to transcend the limitations of language to activate enlightened knowledge.”

A far cry from a simple Memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives defending our country.

Perhaps disagreeing with the denial of the Stupa for the Buddhist, Buono, upon retirement from the Park Service, immediately went to the ACLU who contacted the National Park Service “formally requesting removal” of the Memorial.

What strikes me is that neither Buono or the ACLU on his behalf, have fought for the Buddhist to be granted permission to build his Stupa, but only the destruction of a long-standing War Memorial is sought. This suit being brought under the so-called Establishment Clause to “protect the religious rights of all.”

Being misled in my opinion, some members of the Jewish War Veterans, the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council and the Muslim American Veterans Association on the basis of the Memorial being in the shape of a Cross, believing it denies recognition of their service.

I am left wondering if they are equally offended at the sight of our Second Highest Award for Valor, the Distinguished Service Cross or if any of their members have refused receipt of the award due to it being a Cross also?

Over four million other Veterans, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, The American Legion, The Military Order of the Purple Heart, VFW of California, and American Ex-Prisoners of War, stand together in support of preserving our War Memorials as constructed.

A congressional land swap, returning the 1 acre of land the Memorial is located on in exchange for 5 acres elsewhere in the Preserve did not satisfy Buno or the ACLU and they filed suit to have that overturned. That alone shows me the only satisfactory solution to the ACLU and Buono is total destruction of the Memorial.

Should they succeed, there is an aspect of life all too often ignored, the Law of Unintended Consequence, which states that any purposeful action will produce some unanticipated or unintended consequences.

The ACLU has stated they have no desire to have crosses and such removed from gravesites in cemeteries such as Arlington National Cemetery since they allow numerous religious symbols on graves within the cemetery.

Although I have little confidence in such guarantees from the ACLU I’ll take them at their word for now, in regards to crosses on headstones. But, only for now as I do not trust the ACLU since they have shown a penchant for attacking anything remotely resembling a Christian symbol on public property.

My gut tells me that in time, headstones with Christian Crosses won’t be safe either.

Nor will numerous public memorials to War Veterans across America as several contain either crosses or some other symbol that can be associated with Christianity, whether any religious significance was intended or not.

One such symbol stands in front of the grave of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy, struck down by an assassin’s bullet November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. At the request of his wife, Jacqueline, an “eternal flame” was placed in front of his gravesite.

Eternal flames have an old history dating back to early Christianity and other religions as well.

Kennedy, a Democrat, is revered by many of those on the left who support destruction of such War Memorials as is currently under fire in the Mojave National Preserve.

I doubt any of them see any religious significance in such an eternal flame, just as visiting Veterans and those who honor fallen Veterans do not visit the Mojave War Memorial for religious significance.

Yet, with the ACLU’s continuing push for removing any symbol someone associates with Christianity and claims offense at, the law of unintended consequences could very well come back on the left as someone claims offense at the historical religious significance of the eternal flame on the President Kennedy’s grave and wins a Court Case to extinguish it.

Actions have consequences and all too often they aren’t what was expected.