In 1934, some concerned citizens erected a 6-foot tall Latin cross on federal land in the Mojave desert in California as a monument to our soldiers who were killed in World War I.
This cross stood for decades, until 1999, when all of a sudden, someone couldn't accept a Christian cross standing on federal land. The mistaken notion of separation of church and state struck again as the mostly loony-toon 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that this cross sitting in the middle of the desert constituted an establishment of religion. Things got so absurd, appeals courts ordered that the cross be covered with a big wooden box!
To make a long story short, the idea of the establishment clause of the First Amendment was to prevent Congress from favoring one Christian denomination over another. Hence, Congress could not decide that the Methodist Church would be the official church of the United States and other religions - say, the Quakers - could not be compelled to support the Methodist Church with their tax dollars.
Last time I checked, allowing a cross that was planted by private citizens to sit on federal land does not meet the standard established by the First Amendment.
I am happy to say that five of the nine justices of the Supreme Court agreed with me on April 28th of this year. Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, and Alito agreed that the cross should stay. On the other side, Ginsburg, Breyer, the "wise Latina" Sotomayor, and Stevens - in his final "F-You" to our nation - voted to scrap the cross.
On a personal note, I think we need more monuments to our World War I veterans. Did you know that of all the battles our military has fought in our nation's history, the bloodiest battle of all took place during World War I?
Think of three famous battles, all of which lasted between one and two months, that our troops fought in World War II, and the casualties our troops suffered in them:
The Battle of Iwo Jima, which took place in February and March of 1945 claimed the lives of just under 7,000 U.S. Marines. The Battle of Okinawa, which was fought from April to July 1945, killed about 12,500 American soldiers, sailors, and Marines. The most costly battle of World War II for the United States was the Battle of the Bulge, fought in December 1944 and January 1945, in which 19,000 American soldiers were killed.
As horrible were the casualties in those three battles, they don't come close to matching the number of American deaths that were suffered from September to November 1918 in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive at the end of World War I. In that 47-day battle, an astounding 26,300 American soldiers were killed. Another 96,000 were wounded.
Our reasons for entering World War I may have been seriously misguided, but that shouldn't stop us from better recognizing the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the 26,300 American soldiers who died fighting in it. I think that's worth a cross in the desert.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson