Posts tagged ‘Mojave Cross’

January 16, 2011

The Assault On Veterans Memorials Continues

by lewwaters

Since the founding of our country, men and women have stood up and answered the call to defend her in foreign lands. Millions of our ordinary citizens have donned our uniform and participated in battles to preserve our freedoms and liberties and offer other lands the chance to adopt them as well, should they so choose.

All too many of those brave Americans paid the ultimate price, sacrificing their lives, many never found and others only their remains being returned. Hundreds of thousands of our brave fallen remain buried in foreign lands, families and loved one unable to visit their graves to even pay their respects.

Across the land, Memorials have been erected in remembrance of those who gave their lives for all of us. Memorials where loved ones and family could congregate leaving mementos or pay their respects to their missing loved ones.

Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, days set aside to show honor and respect to those who have stood between the citizens and our enemies, communities across the country gather at these Memorials. Speeches are made, Veterans are recognized for their sacrifices and the fallen are honored as the true heroes of our country.

Memorials since the founding of the nation have been erected in various shapes and sizes honoring all who fallen and to Veterans, families and loved ones of the fallen, sit on sacred hallowed land.

How tragic, how dispirited is it that now, decades after the raising of these Memorials, a small minority have taken it upon themselves to seek the destruction of these Memorials because the shape of some of them, a simple cross, is ‘offensive’ to them and them alone?

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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 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.