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The commander of the American Legion has joined those calling for President Bush to take action to save the Mount Soledad cross veterans memorial in Southern California, which a federal judge has ordered removed.
In a letter to the president, National Commander Thomas L. Bock wrote, “We are particularly concerned in this case that a dangerous precedent could be set that would endanger veterans memorials across America, perhaps even the 9,000 crosses that mark the final resting places of our World War II heroes at Normandy Beach.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, May 3 U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson ordered the city of San Diego to remove the mountain-top cross within 90 days or face a fine of $5,000 a day.
Thompson ruled in 1991 the cross violates the so-called “separation of church and state,” but the case has remained in courts and become an issue of public policy.
Mt. Soledad cross and veterans memorial above San Diego (soledadmemorial.com)
The battle began in 1989 when Phillip Paulsen, an atheist, filed suit, and a court ordered the city to remove the cross. In 1998, the city sold the property to the Mt. Soledad War Memorial Association, which again was challenged in court. The sale originally was upheld but later ruled unconstitutional by the full panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and remanded back to district court to work out a remedy.
“The crosses and Stars of David that mark the graves and honor the sacrifices of our fallen heroes are sacred ground to Americans,” wrote Bock, who represents 2.7 million veterans . “As a grateful nation, we must ensure that their memory will never be dishonored by those who would seek to remove them.”
The American Legion is conducting a campaign in support of the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA), H.R. 2679, which is pending in the House of Representatives. The measure would remove the authority for judges to award taxpayer monies in attorneys fees in Establishment Clause cases involving litigation against religions icons and veterans memorials.
The American Family Association is asking citizens to send an e-mail to the president to effectively take “the case out of Judge Thompson’s hands” by signing an executive order transferring the land to the National Park Service.
Last year, 76 percent of San Diegans voted to approve the transfer of the national memorial to federal custody.
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