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June 18, 2010 > Letter to the editor: Legion to President Obama: Restore Mojave Cross

Letter to the editor: Legion to President Obama: Restore Mojave Cross

Submitted By Joe March, American Legion

A letter signed by The American Legion is asking President Barack Obama to restore the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial cross. The letter, which also copied U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, was signed by National Commander Clarence Hill and included signatures from the heads of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Liberty Institute and the veterans counsel for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

"It is time for the President to intervene and restore this tribute to our World War I veterans which stood as a testament to their sacrifice for over 75 years," Hill said. "After its reaffirmation by the highest court in the land, its clandestine removal by thieves cries out for its immediate replacement."

This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled lower federal courts' decisions to tear down the memorial because of a misplaced belief that it was a religious icon on federal land. Soon after the ruling, the memorial was ripped down and carried away by vandals.

"This act was abhorrent and constitutes a federal crime under the Veterans' Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003. It defies the rule of law, flouting a binding decision of the U.S. Supreme Court," the letter states. "If Arlington National Cemetery were similarly desecrated, that desecration would be rectified immediately, and rightly so. Unfortunately, however, the National Park Service and the Department of Justice are refusing our request to replace the stolen memorial."

The letter goes on to state that the National Park Service hasn't restored the memorial because it is complying with a lower court order, which in their interpretation, the Supreme Court decision did not fully address. Henry Sandoz, caretaker of the memorial for the last 26 years, has built an exact replica of what was torn down and is ready to re-install it.

"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," the letter reads. "It is in your power to direct the National Park Service and the Department of Justice to immediately restore the Memorial. And, on behalf of our nation's veterans, we humbly ask you to do so, as Commander-in-Chief and as the sole officer constitutionally charged to take care that the laws are faithfully executed."

Anyone may sign the letter at www.PutTheCrossBack.com. For more information about the American Legion, visit www.Legion.org.

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