The 7-foot-tall metal cross that has stood in California's Mojave Desert for 75 years as a memorial to World War I dead -- and withstood a hard-fought battle in the Supreme Court -- was ripped down and stolen in a nighttime heist, according to state officials.
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. – Authorities say a controversial cross honoring war dead that was stolen from its Mojave Desert perch two years ago has turned up hundreds of miles away in the San Francisco Bay area.
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department was notified Monday that a large cross was tied to a fence post in Half Moon Bay. An attached note asked finders to contact authorities.
KGO-TV says the National Park Service confirmed it’s the same cross that vanished from Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert. The Sheriff’s Department plans to return it.
The cross honoring war dead was taken in 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it didn’t violate separation of church and state because the public land it stood on was being transferred to a veterans group.
A replacement will be dedicated there on Sunday for Veterans Day.
The National Park Service conveyed a small piece of park land to the California Veterans of Foreign Wars on Friday, resolving a long-standing issue over a white cross erected to memorialize American soldiers who died in World War I.
Liberty Institute, in conjunction with the VFW and the Mojave Cross’ longtime caretakers Henry and Wanda Sandoz, will host many veterans, dignitaries and supporters in rededication ceremonies.
The cross is to be raised at 11 a.m. Sunday with a rededication ceremony at 1 p.m. on Cima Road at the Mojave National Preserve.