Fox News reported over the weekend some excellent news concerning the Mojave Desert Memorial Cross, also known as the WWI Mojave Desert War Memorial.
A veterans group can restore a memorial cross in the Mojave Desert under a court settlement that ends a decade-old legal battle….
The [National Park Service] will give up the acre of land [the hilltop area known as Sunrise Rock on which the cross had stood for decades before thieves stole it after losing a court battle to have it removed legally] in exchange for five acres of donated property elsewhere in the 1.6 million acre preserve….
Justice Anthony Kennedy, siding with the 5-4 majority, wrote that the cross evokes more than religion. “It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten[.]”
As part of the settlement,
[o]nce the swap is complete, the park service will fence the site, leaving entrances for visitors, and post signs noting that it is private land. A plaque will be placed on the rock noting that it is a memorial for US war veterans.
No small amount of credit goes to Liberty Institute, who fought the legal fight for so long, and to Henry Sandoz, who worked so hard and so long maintaining the cross—keeping a promise he’d made those decades ago to his dying friend, Riley Bembry, who had erected the original cross in 1934—and producing the replacement that will go up when this all comes to fruition.
It’s not time to celebrate, yet; the land swap isn’t completed, the cross hasn’t been emplaced, and in the event, we still need to be alert for a repetition of the theft that prolonged this case.