Calling the latest decision by a federal judge to remove a cross from a veterans memorial "very regrettable," American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger vowed to continue supporting the legal fight to maintain the symbol that has stood at San Diego's Mount Soledad for more than half a century.
"The fight for the Mount Soledad Cross perfectly epitomizes what is emblazoned on the back of every American Legion membership card, the words, ‘For God and Country,'" Dellinger said. "Fortunately, the court has stayed the order allowing 90 days to file an appeal. The legal fight has been going on for almost a quarter century and The American Legion, which has previously filed an amicus curiae (friend of court) brief, does not plan to retreat now."
In addition to the cross, the memorial is accompanied by more than 1,600 plaques bearing names, messages and etched images of veterans. It also includes secular symbols and 18 Stars of David. The case could still be heard by the Ninth Circuit Court and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There is a popular saying that there are no atheists in foxholes," Dellinger said. "While I respect the rights of the minority, most veterans are people of religious faith. What about their rights? What about the crosses that are on the graves of U.S. military heroes buried in veterans cemeteries? The American Legion takes these attacks on the religious rights of veterans very seriously and we salute the Liberty Institute and all of those willing to stand up to this intolerance."