Published May 12, 2010
In the dark of night on Sunday, May 9, 2010, vandals stole through 1.6 million acres of desert and tore down the seven-foot-tall Mojave Desert War Memorial Cross, which has stood for more than 75 years honoring our nation’s war dead.
Erected by WWI veterans in 1934, the monument was bolted and welded down atop of Sunrise Rock in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve.
Although it has weathered many storms over the years – from vandals trying to tear it down to activist judges ordering it covered from view with a plastic tarp or, most recently, a plywood box, this latest attack is an outrage, akin to desecrating people’s graves.
We will not rest until the Mojave Desert War Memorial Cross is reinstalled.
Liberty Institute and our clients, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, The American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Ex-Prisoners of War, and longtime memorial caretakers Henry and Wanda Sandoz will continue to fight for the right to honor America’s war heroes in the public square.
Liberty Institute is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible for vandalizing and tearing down this veterans memorial. Anyone with information relating to this case can leave a message on the 24-hour National Park Service Tip Line at 760.252.6120. Callers can also choose to remain anonymous.
From a legal perspective, this case is starting over. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decisions below, but also sent this case back to the district court just days ago. This legal battle is far from over. The ACLU has already announced it will be asking the judge to rule again that the Mojave Desert Memorial Cross must not stand. We will be there to argue it should.
Should we lose, all public memorials across the country would be at risk of being torn down by the intolerant and misguided who want to cleanse the public square from all religious imagery.
We must let our friends and neighbors know about this travesty.
Please stand with our veterans. Help spread the word and support them in this battle. Go to www.donttearmedown.com to help and learn more.
Kelly Shackelfordis president and CEO of Liberty Institute.
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