Replica Mojave cross installed, taken down

A replica of the cross removed last week from the site of the National World War I Memorial in Mojave National Preserve was installed by an unknown party sometime on May 19 but then removed by park employees. Federal parks have regulations regarding the placing of memorials within the park boundaries.

The new cross was seen by park employees early Thursday morning. It was mounted at the same location as the cross that was removed a little less than two weeks ago.

Litigation surrounding the memorial has been ongoing since March 2001, when a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, arguing that the display of a cross in the memorial violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Congress designated the site a national memorial commemorating United States participation in World War I and honoring the American veterans of that War. The National Park Service was subsequently enjoined from displaying the cross.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the cross could stay up, for now, and referred the case back to the lower courts. The American Legion has been a strong supporter of the cross, filing crucial amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs in favor of the cross staying put.

Park law enforcement is investigating the removal of the original cross as well as this most recent incident involving the replica cross. Anyone with information about either incident is asked to call the Mojave National Preserve tip line at (760) 252-6120.