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Legion: Common Sense Prevails in California War Memorial Transfer to Feds

Contact: Ramona Joyce, 202-263-2982, 202-445-1161 cell; Joe March, 317-630-1253, 317-748-1926 cell; both with The American Legion.


INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- A new federal law passed by Congress and signed by the President that transfers ownership of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial to the United States government was heralded today by the national commander of 2.7 million-member American Legion today as a “victory for common sense.”


“We are a nation established on Judeo-Christian principles,” Thomas L. Bock said. “We are pleased to see the U.S. Congress and the President walking in the ‘footsteps of the founders’ in recognizing the sanctity of this veterans memorial.”


In a 2005 referendum, 76 percent of the people of San Diego approved the transfer of the national memorial to federal custody.  In a letter to the President last May urging federal acquisition, Bock wrote, “We are particularly concerned in this case that a dangerous precedent could be set that would endanger veterans memorials across America, perhaps even the nine thousand crosses that mark the final resting places of our World War II heroes at Normandy Beach.”


On May 3, a San Diego federal judge ordered the city of San Diego to take down the cross within 90 days or face $5,000 in daily fines. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy blocked that order on July 3 pending a hearing if raised to their level.  Meanwhile, the House passed the bill by a 349-74 vote on July 19 and the Senate approved it unanimously Aug. 1 rendering the lawsuits moot. 


“We expect more litigation and I assure you that The American Legion will be in the fight,” Bock said.  “The religious symbols that mark the graves and honor the sacrifices of our fallen heroes - a cross, Star of David, or other identification of faith in God - are sacred to Americans. As a grateful nation, we must ensure that the memory of our heroes will never be dishonored by those who would seek to remove them.”


The American Legion is conducting a campaign in support of the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA), H.R. 2679, in the House of Representatives and S. 3696 in the Senate. The measures would remove the authority for judges to award taxpayer monies in attorneys fees in Establishment Clause cases involving litigation against religious icons and veterans memorials.


Media Contacts: Ramona Joyce, 202/263-2982; Cell, 202-445-1161 or Joe March, (317) 630-1253; Cell (317) 748-1926. This text and a high-resolution photo of Cmdr. Bock can be downloaded at www.legion.org.