This past Thursday, US District Judge Larry Burns issued a ruling that the Mount Soledad Memorial cross in San Diego had to be taken down. This is the latest iteration in a 25-year case involving the monument that has stood atop Mount Soledad since 1954.
In a statement released by the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, its president and CEO Bruce Bailey stated,
“Judge Burns’s comments made it clear that, in his opinion, he was bound by the 9t hU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had given him edicts that he had to evaluate. Judge Burns reminded everyone that this opinion (meaning the 9th Circuit opinion) was the law of the case.”
The Association’s Bailey seemed to agr:ee with the Judge’s opinion:
“He was simply doing what his oath of office required of him: follow the constitution.” Bailey said. However, Burns’s earlier ruling in 2008 indicated that the cross was constitutional and did not need to be removed. But the 9th Circuit sent it back to him, ordering that either the parties agree to a resolution or, if not, Burns was to provide a remedy.
There is still hope the case may be heard by the Supreme Court.
But is this yet another case of judicial activism overturning itself in this case? We are reminded of the California Proposition 8 (Gay Marriage) referendum in 2008 where the people, by their vote, decided they wanted marriage defined as between a man and woman. That was not good enough for special interest groups who took the case to the courts, and voila, the democratic process was overruled by the ultimate “Men in Black.”
But back to this abhorrent case. The Mount Soledad Association provided a bit of history in its statement:
(It) does not view the cross as a religious symbol but rather as an international symbol of sacrifice. It was erected in 1954 to honor the sacrifices of veterans who served during the Korean War. William J. Kellogg, chairman emeritus of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, has spent much of his adult life defending the presence of the cross at the Memorial. It was approximately six years after Kellogg joined the Association that a case was filed on behalf of Philip Paulson, an atheist, contesting the presence of the cross. According to the Association’s press statement, “Over the years, the Memorial Association expanded its mission to honor veterans who served during time of war and, beginning in 2007, to all U.S. veterans, living and deceased”. The Memorial is owned by the federal government and is managed by Navy Region Southwest, to whom the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association reports. But the Association’s role has been much more than a caretaker and maintainer of the property. In addition to maintaining the Memorial, the Association raises funds for the site through plaque sales, membership dues and donations and receives no money from the government. It has constantly enhanced and improved the mountaintop memorial site.
It’s apparent to me that these atheist groups and others who would destroy the symbol of the cross at this memorial fail to understand the relevance and meaning. In the Bible, John 3:16 it states, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The cross represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to fulfill God’s promise to us all. And there could be no more fitting place for the cross than to be at the Memorial of those who were wiling to make the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us, “the last full measure of devotion.”
The cross casts a peaceful shadow upon those and blesses them in eternity. It reminds those of us who are living, and those who stood beside them at the moment of their passing, that they have found eternal rest and peace. John 15:13 beautifully links the ideal of Jesus’ service, sacrifice, and commitment to that of the American combat veteran, “Greater love has no one than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.”
I condemn the actions of those who seek to tear down this symbol rooted in our nation’s Judeo-Christian faith heritage. Thomas Jefferson stated, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” We risk a horrible danger if we continue to spit in the eye of God.
Forget the overused “separation of church and state” argument because in no way does this cross represent the state promoting religion. It is meant to symbolize the bond between a man who sought to save our souls for eternity and those who sought to save our earthly liberties and freedoms.
If you agree with me, please contact your representatives, the 9th Circuit Court, Supreme Court, and city officials in San Diego and tell them, the cross atop Mount Soledad must forever stand.