A Cross Honoring
Veterans Comes Under Fire
A handful of people aided by the American Civil
Liberties Union have been fighting since 1989 to force the destruction of a 43-foot
cross that graces a memorial to Korean War veterans on property owned by the
City of San Diego, Calif. They don't like the Christian symbol and don't care
that most people do.
But even though the city thought it
sold the Mount Soledad site to a private group, which subsequently spent a
million dollars enhancing it for public view, the opponents still are fighting,
and vowing not to stop until the cross is gone.
The cross is the centerpiece of a
world-famous veterans memorial, and is displayed along with six large granite
walls containing 1,600 marble plaques honoring individual veterans of World War
II and the Korean War. There also are pillars and pavers honoring various
community and veterans groups, as well as a tall flagpole and other
But an avowed atheist and his ACLU
lawyers have persisted in complaining that not only is the cross illegally
displayed on public property, but the city can't even donate it to a private
group because it would still be there.
But most people realize
that the government can have a religious display on public property, such as
the crosses at Arlington National Cemetery, or this cross, as long as there is
also secular content on display. It's wholly within the U.S. Constitution and
does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which is
meant to prevent government establishment or favoritism of one religion over
In July 2005, a landslide majority
of more than 197,000 San Diegans voted to protect the Mt. Soledad Memorial by
transferring jurisdiction to the federal park system.
For the latest information on the Mt
Soledad Cross controversy search for articles about it on the website of the Thomas
More Law Center, www.thomasmore.org and note that the
group has started a petition drive to ask the federal government to take over
the site by its powers of eminent domain so that the cross display can be
protected by federal law.
By Susan Darst Williams • www.GoBigEd.com • Heart Lessons
025 • © 2006