Thursday, May 13, 2010

Anonymous Letter Claims To Be From Veteran Who Stole Sunrise Rock Cross

Yesterday's Barstow, California Desert Dispatch published an anonymous letter claiming to explain the theft earlier this week of the Cross on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve World War I memorial. (See prior posting.) The newspaper, which said it could not verify the validity of the letter, reported it was transmitted by an anonymous caller who claimed it was written by the person directly responsible for the theft. The letter writer, claiming to be a veteran, said his decision to "lovingly" move the cross was impelled by language in the Supreme Court's recent decision permitting it to remain. (See prior posting.) The letter read in part:

5. The cross was erected illegally on public land in 1998 by a private individual named Henry Sandoz. Since then the government has actively worked to promote the continued existence of the cross, even as it excluded other monuments from differing religions. This favoritism and exclusion clearly violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution.

6. Anthony Kennedy desecrated and marginalized the memory and sacrifice of all those non-Christians that died in WWI when he wrote: 'Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far 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.' The irony and tragedy of that statement is unique.

7. Justice Kennedy’s words in particular and others like them from the other Justices caused me to act.

8. At the time of its removal there was nothing to identify the cross as a memorial of any kind, and the simple fact of the matter is that the only thing it represented was an oddly placed tribute to Christ. This cross evoked nothing of the sort that Justice Kennedy writes of, it was in the end simply a cross in the desert....

12. We as a nation need to change the dialogue and stop pretending that this is about a war memorial. If it is a memorial, then we need to stop arguing about the cross and instead place a proper memorial on that site, one that respects Christians and non-Christians alike, and one that is actually recognizable as a war memorial.

13. If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned to Mr. Sandoz.

14. Alternatively, if a place can be found that memorializes the Christian Veterans of WWI that is not on public land the Cross will promptly be forwarded with care and reverence for installation at the private site.

[Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]

UPDATE: The May 16 San Bernadino Sun reports that rewards for return of the stolen cross now total $125,000.

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