The Supreme Court has issued a ruling on the Mojave Cross. From our National HQ site:
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2010 — After seven months of deliberation, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling to tear down a cross-shaped veterans memorial in the middle of the Mojave Desert Preserve, but the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. said there is still work to be done before the 76-year-old memorial is seen again.
“Their ruling was a strong step forward, but the 5-4 split decision only protects the memorial today and doesn’t yet allow the congressional approved land transfer to occur or remove the plywood box that currently encases it,” said Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., of Sussex, Wis.
“A decision today could have protected this memorial outright, along with establishing precedent to protect thousands of other veterans’ memorials that currently reside on federal, state or municipal property throughout the country,” he said. “The high court chose instead to remand the case back to the district court, which means we may have to go through these proceedings all over again.”
In Salazar v. Buono, the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of a seven-foot-tall Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial that VFW members erected in the shape of the Latin cross in 1934 to honor 53,000 Americans who fell in battle during World War I. The opposition, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, claimed that a cross on federal lands violated the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the federal government from creating a national religion or endorsing one religion over another.
Congress agreed in 2002 to give the one-acre memorial site to the VFW in exchange for five acres of privately owned land elsewhere within the 1.6 million-acre Mojave Desert Preserve. Lower courts, however, ruled that the government could not cure an Establishment Clause violation with a land swap. A plywood box has covered the cross ever since.
“Those World War I VFW members erected a memorial in the middle of the Mojave Desert 76 years ago to honor their dead,” said Tradewell. “Their use of the cross was no more sectarian than our nation’s use of the cross on our second highest military medal for bravery. We hope the district court agrees with us, because modern-day political correctness standards should not be applied to a 1934 gesture to honor the fallen.”
Representative Sam Rohrer (R-Berks) is encouraging military veterans who served in the Persian Gulf between 1990 and 1991 to apply for a bonus from the Commonwealth.
The Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus is available to military veterans who served on active duty in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
“This bonus program is a small token of appreciation from a grateful Commonwealth,” Rohrer said. “Our armed forces personnel traveled halfway across the globe to perform their duty. They repelled the military of dictator Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and back into Iraq. Our brave men and women did everything that was asked of them. For their courage, valor and dedication, we offer this bonus as a sign of our appreciation.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offers the Pennsylvania Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus to veterans who served on active duty, including mobilized National Guard and Reserve personnel, between Aug. 2, 1990, and Aug. 31, 1991, with a payment of up to $75 per month for every month of active Gulf War service. Veterans who received a Southwest Asia Service Medal and were legal residents of Pennsylvania at the time of their service are also eligible for the benefit.
An additional bonus of $5,000 is available to surviving families of those killed in action during the same period.
“While the military victory in the Persian Gulf was swift, it was not without casualties,” Rohrer said. “There is no way to adequately compensate the family of a fallen hero. No dollar amount can ever properly capture the sense of obligation and gratitude felt by the people of Pennsylvania. We humbly offer the survivor bonus payment, knowing it can never replace the loved one who died in battle.”
For more information on the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus, visit Rohrer’s Web site at SamRohrer.com and click on “Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus.”
Rep. Samuel Rohrer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives (610) 775-5130
(717) 787-8550 www.SamRohrer.com
Contact: Dan Massing
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 772-9845 www.pahousegop.com
Recently, one of our founding members, 92-year-old Harry Lines, was flown with other WWII veterans to the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Washington, DC for the premiere of HBO’s “The Pacific.” During the event, Harry was treated like the hero he was, and he and the other veterans were honored both by the Marriott and Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg. Harry was also interviewed for a brief documentary about the experience:
Have you thanked a veteran today? If you haven’t, why not come by the post on Sunday, April 11th at noon and join us for a Spaghetti Dinner (tickets are $8). Not only can you thank the veterans that are members of the post, we’re going to have live Skype web chats (with web cameras/voice) with some of the soldiers from the 1185th DDSB, our adopted unit, that are currently deployed overseas!
We will be joined by family members of the 1185th, who are enduring the hardships of their beloved family members being away from them. They could certainly use a THANK YOU, too!