For 50 years, World War I Army medic John Riley Bembrey watched over the Latin cross erected in the Mojave Desert in 1934 to honor World War I veterans. Before he passed away in 1984, Bembrey handed that responsibility over to Henry Sandoz.
Sandoz had to watch the cross boarded up during a long legal battle that saw the ACLU petition to have the cross removed because it was on public land. But after today's Supreme Court ruling that the cross can remain, Sandoz - and, according to the 70-year-old, Bembrey himself - are smiling.
"I think it's great. It's like we're starting to get things right again," said Sandoz from his home in Yucca Valley, Calif. "And I think that my old friend, Riley, is looking down and smiling, too. I know he's pretty happy about this."
The 5-4 ruling was especially pleasing to Wanda Sandoz, Henry's wife of five decades.
"I couldn't have imagined what it what have felt like to our veterans if the cross would have been taken down," Wanda said. "It would have been a slap in their faces. We really feel like justice has been done."