On Flag Day, Veterans Ask, 'President Obama, Put the Cross Back!'

Jun 14, 2010, 11:45 ET from Liberty Institute

Mojave Desert Memorial, Nation's Only WWI Memorial, Missing Since May 9

PLANO, Texas, June 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Liberty Institute just sent a letter to President Obama asking him to help put the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial back in its rightful place following its vandalism and theft on May 9.  Additionally, Americans nationwide are signing on to the letter in support of the veterans groups at www.PutTheCrossBack.com.

The letter reads in part, "This impasse is at a point where we now need your intervention as our nation's leader, Mr. President, on decisive action to direct restoration of the memorial to its original form."

On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the seven-foot-tall memorial cross, which was erected by World War I veterans in 1934 and is the only World War I Memorial designated a national monument by Congress, should stand, but sent it back to the lower court to review the land transfer. Vandals then tore the memorial down in the middle of the night. To date, the National Park Service and Department of Justice (D.O.J.) refuse to put the memorial back up, and when a replacement cross was put up in the middle of the night, they tore it down.

"Allowing a national memorial to our veterans to sit in a vandalized state for possibly years is totally unacceptable," said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of Liberty Institute.  "It dishonors our veterans and the remembrance of their selfless sacrifice, and it flouts the rule of law and a direct decision of the Supreme Court."

Henry Sandoz, the caretaker of the memorial for the last 26 years has built an exact replica of what was torn down and is ready to reinstall it.  The Park Service and D.O.J. currently refuse to allow it.

The VFW and the Liberty Institute, which represents the national veterans organizations in their fight to protect memorials, are offering a $125,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the criminals responsible for tearing down the Mojave Desert War Memorial. This is a federal crime under the Veterans' Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003, and it defies the rule of law, circumventing a binding decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

View or sign on to the letter at www.putthecrossback.com.  

Liberty Institute works to uphold Constitutional and First Amendment religious and speech freedoms in the courts.  Liberty Institute represented all major veterans groups as amici in the Supreme Court case of Salazar v. Buono involving this 76-year-old war memorial. The Institute continues to represent them as the case returns to District Court, where the ACLU is still asking that the Memorial be torn down and banned.

Editor's Note: Photos of the original memorial and the destruction are available in the press room at www.putthecrossback.com.  

SOURCE Liberty Institute