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The cross returns

The cross returns

Henry Sandoz and the new, 7-foot steel cross. (Liberty Institute/AP)

Hardy supporters reinstated a World War I memorial cross in the Mojave Desert on Veterans Day—after a 13-year battle over the constitutionality of a religious symbol on federal ground.

More than 100 people showed up for the ceremony—including cross caretakers Henry and Wanda Sandoz, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), attorneys from the Liberty Institute, and an honor guard.

The Sandozes have taken care of the cross since 1984 when they promised a World War I veteran they would watch over it. In 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union sued VFW, calling the cross unconstitutional because it violated the separation of church and state. Throughout the court process, the cross was bagged and covered in a plywood box. 

A 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowed for the VFW to transfer the federal land beneath the cross, allowing for the cross to stand on private property. But the cross was stolen days after the ruling. 

The land transfer finally was completed early in November, and the stolen cross was found in Northern California. But Henry Sandoz decided to put up a newly made cross for the ceremony.

The site is now fenced off and includes a plaque stating that the cross is a memorial for World War I veterans.

“We are so, so happy that it’s going up and staying up without opposition since the Veterans of Foreign Wars owns it now,” Wanda Sandoz said. “We are so happy that it all came together and the veterans can have their memorial now.”


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  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 06:39 pm

    That the cross is back, and is a statement regarding the faith of WWI soldiers is a wonderful thing.  But the court ruling was still a blow to religious freedom.  It, in essence, stated "you cannot have a religious symbol, especially a Christian one, on government property, but we will help you get it transferred to private property."One more step away from the understanding of the Founders: that federal government, in the form of Congress, can make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion (not just worship)!

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 06:39 pm

    When the reason for the protest was removed the protesters removed the cross.  Operating within the rules of the law and courtesy is something some people cannot understand.  Anyone who reads comments on other sites knows there is not only a difference in language one this site but a difference in tone.  It might even be possible to rigorously disagree without resorting to language designed to offend.  

  • William H
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 06:39 pm

    At last, a sad story with a happy ending.