Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.
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Assault on Christian Cross Continues
• Jewish, atheist groups have worked for 25 years to have memorial cross for vets ripped down
• Whiners from Jewish war veterans group say Christian cross on public property is offensive
By Dave Gahary
The relentless drive by organized Jewish and atheist groups and individuals to vanquish all symbols of Christianity that hold extremely important significance to this country’s history and to the millions of Americans who call themselves Christians may have reached a fevered pitch, as a 27-foot high cross that adorns a war memorial is now in their sights, with the nearly 25-year litigation battle coming close to an end.
The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) has teamed up with the Jewish-dominated American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Anti-Defamation League to attack the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial in La Jolla, California, although the memorial is home to no less than 18 Stars of David. It seems that the prominence of the Latin cross is what has these Jews offended.
On December 12, U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns ordered the cross removed within 90 days, but ‘stayed’ the order until all possible appeals have been exhausted. A stay is a ruling by the court that halts further litigation in a trial.
The openly-Zionist and rapidly-shrinking JWV is no ordinary veterans’ organization, like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, which lobby on behalf of active duty and veteran service members for better health care and benefits, regardless of their religion.
The JWV is a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and advocates for religious freedom and separation of church and state in the U.S. military. They also sponsor a “Holocaust” observance on military installations and administer a reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those accused of “anti-Semitism.” Indicative of the minute numbers of Jews who serve in the armed forces, the JWV also present annually little more than two dozen engraved ‘Kiddush cups’ to Jewish graduates of the several U.S. military academies.
Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial was founded in 1952 by American Legion Post #275, and in 1954 the cross was built on top of Mount Soledad specifically to honor returning Korean War veterans. In May of 1989, Phillip Paulson, an atheist and a veteran, initiated litigation to remove the cross, as it was on property owned by the city of San Diego. Although Paulson has since passed on, several separate plaintiffs were substituted in his place to continue the assault.
To honor the wishes of the locals who were happy with the memorial, the city put the land up for bid, with the highest bidder, the Mount Soledad Memorial Association (MSMA), paying $106,000. Further litigation made its way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, who ruled that the sale itself was unconstitutional, until in 2006, Representative Duncan L. Hunter (R-Calif.) attached the land to a budget bill, applying eminent domain, and took it under ownership of the federal government, declaring the cross to be a national war memorial.
The Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial was now under the control of the U.S. Navy, but a memo of understanding allowed for the MSMA to maintain the Memorial, without federal funding. Proceeds are raised from the sale of plaques on the walls that were built in 2001, which now contain 3,400 monuments for veterans living and deceased, from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in the Middle East. The plaques sell for between $950 and $1,800. Presidents Eisenhower, Ford and Reagan all have plaques there.
To gain further insight into this landmark case, American Free Press conducted an exclusive interview with Bruce Bailey, the president and chief executive officer of the MSMA, who is a Vietnam era veteran who served as a judge advocate for 30 years in the Air Force, 20 of them in the Pentagon. A judge advocate serves as a legal advisor to the command they are attached to.
“The first cross on Mount Soledad was put up in 1913,” he began. “This is a nondenominational memorial. We see veterans as veterans. We don’t see them as Christians, of the Jewish faith, of Muslims, of any particular faith. Our position is simply that it is a Latin cross but it has more meaning than just being a symbol of Christianity. It is a symbol of honoring veterans.”
AFP asked how the case will likely unfold.
“We just appealed this case…to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals up in San Francisco [who has] already indicated that the ‘cross as it is presently situated,’ violates the Constitution. And so we anticipate that they will again rule that the cross…is in violation of the Establishment Clause in the Constitution. And then, the case will be ripe to ask the Supreme Court to hear [it].”
The MSMA is represented by Liberty Institute and the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, both Texas-based, neither of which are charging a penny.
“They have spent quite a bit of money helping us through this lawsuit, and I just want say…we’re very indebted to these people and very appreciative of their hard work,” Mr. Bailey said.
“I can tell you that since this ruling has come down, we have gotten lots and lots of responses from people all across the country…saying they support what we’re doing, they believe in what we’re doing, and they believe the cross should remain as part of the Memorial.”
The memorial is the only one like it in the country because it honors veterans who are living and deceased.
“Approximately 70% of the plaques on the walls are for living veterans,” said Bailey.
“In the meantime we continue our mission [of] honoring veterans. It was originally put up as a war memorial and we realized years after that, that the people who served at any time, those people who have helped preserve the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans, that’s what we’re all about.”
There is federal legislation in the works to keep the cross standing. Representative Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), the son of Representative Duncan L. Hunter mentioned above, introduced in the House of Representatives on January 3, the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial Preservation Act, which “orders the Secretary of Defense to cede all rights, title and interest in the memorial site to the association at no cost.”