Posts tagged ‘Veterans Memorial’

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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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 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.

November 9, 2008

America’s Veterans, A Better Breed

by lewwaters

A repost in honor of all of Clark County’s Veterans and all Veterans throughout America. Our Veterans are owed what can never be repaid.

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America’s Veterans, A Better Breed

November 10, 2007

It may be very difficult for many to understand, but there exists a segment of our society, a minority within, that willingly place themselves between our enemies and the rest. That segment has always been there throughout our history and will remain there in the future.

They come down from the mountains. They come from the cities of the North and the Bayous of the South. They leave the beaches of California and Florida. North, South, East and West, they leave the comfort of their homes and loved ones to volunteer for America. Young and older, Black, White, Brown, Red and Yellow skinned, historically male, but now female too, they come with no desire of praise or large salaries, but a desire only to see America remain the freest nation on the planet and to see others share in the freedoms we do.

Not all face battle, but many do. Some pay the ultimate sacrifice and end up forgotten by all but family, loved ones and maybe those that sent them. Some never return, lost forever, their fate unknown to all who know and love them.

Others return wounded, broken in body or mind. They may face a life of scorn by the very ones they were protecting. All too often those who wish to use them to further political agendas and who could care less about them use them as political props. They are looked upon as victims instead of as the heroes and patriots they really are.

Many desire to return to battle alongside their comrades as soon as possible, missing limbs and fitted with prosthetics. Lifelong friendships may be forged after the battle ceases while others shun closeness, fearing the pain of losing a friend during another battle.

Our media pages and reports are filled with bad news and claims against them. Some of our politicians denigrate their sacrifices for political gain. And still, they continue to come from all corners of the nation to fight for our freedoms, liberties and to keep our great nation free.

These are the ones that fill the ranks of our Armed Services and our Veterans Groups. They are America’s Veterans.

I once received in email what I consider to be the very best Definition of a Veteran I have ever seen.

A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The ‘United States of America’, for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’” (Author unknown)

That is Honor. An Honor that too many Americans no longer understand. That is the courage to leave everything behind and possibly travel to far lands to face an enemy to keep people you don’t even know free or to free a people you also don’t know.

I am one who has a very difficult time affixing “Greatest” to any generation as every generation has faced their trials and tribulations. World War Two gave us many who traveled far to fight oppression and tyranny. Many were forced into the Military and many others volunteered.

Korea and Viet Nam were similar but with the Korean Veterans simply being forgotten and the Viet Nam generation facing the scorn of a thankless nation for many years. Yet, the Viet Nam generation had a greater percentage of volunteers than did the World War Two generation.

Today’s Military and Veterans of the current battles are 100% volunteer, no one is forced into the Military against their will. How can we rate these Soldiers, Airman, Sailors and Marines any less than earlier Veterans we consider “the Greatest?” I cannot.

As we reminisce and celebrate another Veteran’s Day, let us recall that we still have several in Harms Way, doing what many of us did before, facing an enemy to keep America free. Facing an enemy to free an oppressed people.

America owes its Veterans, all of its Veterans, a debt of gratitude. It is a debt that can never be adequately repaid. We can never regain what we gave up in our youth to face the enemy. We can never repay what others give up today to keep us free.

The best we can do is honor and respect them, teaching our children to also honor and respect the sacrifices they made and are making today.

Until such time that the world stops producing despots, tyrants and those who feel they have a right to rule all others, we will keep on producing Veterans and they will continue coming forth for all of us. I thank God that they keep coming.

To all my fellow Veterans, Welcome Home! Thank You!