SUNRISE ROCK, CIMA, CA, NOV. 11, 2012 —Today, the Mojave Veterans Memorial Cross rose again to its original glory and stature, made of steel pipe and standing seven-feet high overlooking Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve where it was first erected in 1934 to honor fallen WWI comrades. During a chilly, three-hour Veterans Day celebration, Liberty Institute, in conjunction with the VFW, The American Legion, longtime caretakers Henry and Wanda Sandoz and 200 enthusiastic supporters, re-dedicated the memorial and then took turns reflecting on the historic victory that followed a 13-year battle against the ACLU.
A lone bugler playing “Taps” and the cadence of a local Boy Scout troop posting its Colors brought a welcomed contrast to Sunrise Rock, which had remained largely silent and vacant since 2010 when vandals desecrated and stole the original Mojave Cross after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the VFW could take ownership of the site here the memorial stood. The Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial is the only World War I Memorial designated by Congress as a National Memorial.
“This Veterans Day marks the conclusion of the fight for the Mojave Veterans Memorial Cross,” said Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation for the Liberty Institute. Sasser served as counsel for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart during the long struggle to restore the Mojave Cross. “The veterans, through their selfless service and sacrifice for something greater than themselves, earned this moment.“
Henry Sandoz, who was asked to watch over the cross by his friend, WWI veteran Riley Membry before he died of cancer in 1984, said, “Riley would have never believed what has happened over these last years…We want to thank our Lord and Savior most of all for watching over us and bringing us to this point to honor Him and the veterans. We are happy it has all come about, and we know that the Lord has been in this. We’ve seen his hand.”
Wanda added, “We are so happy and thankful to God, Liberty Institute, Congressman Jerry Lewis and all those who played a part in making this glorious day possible.”
Other participants included VFW, Department of California State Commander Earl Fulk and State President Renee Fulk; James Rowoldt, VFW State Adjutant/Quartermaster, Department of California; Rees Lloyd, Co-founder, Attorney, and Director, Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of The American Legion Dept. of California; Adam and Ellen McCurry, U.S. Marines Corps; bugler Robert Banning of Banning, CA; and Boy Scout Troop #412 of Ridgecrest, CA.
Liberty Institute represented the VFW, The American Legion, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart as amici in The Supreme Court case, Salazar v. Buono. In addition, Liberty Institute represents the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association in a similar battle over the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial that includes a cross and it sits on public land.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.