Vandals removed the 7-feet-tall cross sometime during the night of Sunday, May 9, from atop a remote outcropping in California just days following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that helped supporters in a legal battle to protect the right to display the cross.
On April 28, the Supreme Court said a lower court erred in striking down a Congressional act that would transfer the land on which the memorial stood from federal to the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. Currently, the memorial resides within the Mojave National Preserve. The case was sent back to the lower court so they could correct their error.
Following the recent vandalism, the Veterans of Foreign Wars immediately issued the following statement:
"This was a legal fight that a vandal just made personal to 50 million veterans, military personnel and their families," said VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell, Sr. "To think anyone can rationalize the desecration of a war memorial is sickening, and for them to believe they won't be apprehended is very naive.
"The memorial will be rebuilt and the vandals will be caught and prosecuted in federal court, since the crime occurred on government property," said Tradewell, a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran from Sussex, Wis. "We hope this horrible act will highlight the importance of resolving this case quickly so that the memorial and land can be transferred to the VFW so that the service and sacrifice of all American war dead will be properly recognized and honored, as originally intended by a group of World War I VFW members 76 years ago."
A $25,000 reward is now being offered through the Liberty Institute, which represented the VFW, American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and American Ex-Prisoners of War in an amicus brief involving the 76-year-old war memorial in the Supreme Court case of Salazar v. Buono.
Anyone with information relating to this crime can e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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