San Diego Cross Supporters Pulling for National Monument Designation

A Michigan-based religious rights legal group is asking the public to contact the mayor and seven city council members of San Diego, California, urging them to deed over to the federal government the historic Mt. Soledad park overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Attorneys Charles LiMandri and Mark Ginella of the western regional office for the Thomas More Law Center, along with former Navy fighter-pilot Dr. John Steel, have been instrumental in persuading Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-SD) and Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-SD) to support legislation that effectively designates the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial as a national monument. That legislation was expected to be signed into law by the president December 6. Located on the site is the historic cross, which has been there since 1952, and a veterans' memorial that pays honor to local military who have served the nation in various capacities.

The site is currently leased by a local veterans association that oversees the grounds along with hundreds of plaques that honor local veterans for their military service. The Mount Soledad Memorial Association dedicated the cross 50 years ago as a veterans' monument &#0151 and in reference to the cross and its location, the Association president William Kellogg says, “We think it should be where it is.” The designation of the site to a national monument was followed by an unanimous favorable vote by the United Veterans Council (UVC) last Saturday.

LiMandri and Ginella indicate they are hopeful the effort to deed the land over to the federal government, a step necessary in making it a national monument, will put to rest the controversy over the site. The controversy began in 1989 when atheist Philip Paulson and his lawyer, James McElroy, sued the City of San Diego over the cross being situated on city land. McElroy stated last week, “the fact that a couple of cowboy congressmen decided to do a publicity stunt isn't going to change anything.” Both of those “cowboy congressmen,” Hunter and Cunningham, are Vietnam veterans.

The lawyers from the Thomas More Law Center realize McElroy and his client likely will continue their legal challenges, but they believe the cross has a better chance of surviving as a national veterans' monument.

“The Mount Soledad cross closely resembles large crosses at Arlington National Cemetery and Gettysburg because of its clear purpose and effect of honoring veterans,” LiMandi says. “The cross stays up at least until there is a final adjudication of its constitutionality under the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the United States Constitution.”

Congressman Cunningham told the La Jolla Light, “I know that having a federal designation as a federal monument is pretty strong. Once designated, the only way the cross could be moved or destroyed would be by ruling of the US Supreme Court.” Were that to happen, Cunningham says an avenue of response is available. “We can come back with another congressional bill to override the Supreme Court — [and] we would be willing to do that. The Mount Soledad cross has been a war memorial in San Diego for over 50 years.”

With the president's signature expected shortly to designate the site as a national monument, Ginella said last week, “Until this time, the cross has been a local debate…. [N]ow it's national.” Both LiMandri and Ginella are asking the public to call the San Diego representatives to request they give the city property to the federal government so the national monument designation can occur. Support for Mt. Soledad's national designation also comes from radio talk-show hosts Roger Hedgecock (KOGO in San Diego) and Paul McGuire (KBRT in Los Angeles).

Members of the San Diego City Council are Scott Peters, Michael Zucchet, Toni Atkins, Brian Maienshein, Donna Frye, Jim Madaffer, and Ralph Inzunza. The mayor is Dick Murphy.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press.)

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