American Scene: Veterans to re-erect cross in Mojave after legal fight

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A war-memorial cross that once stood on a rocky hilltop in a national park before being deemed unconstitutional and ordered removed was resurrected on Veterans Day at the Mojave Desert site, capping a landmark case for veterans fighting similar battles on public lands.

Henry Sandoz, who cared for the original 1930s cross as part of a promise to a dying World War I veteran, rededicated a new, 7-foot steel cross on the same hilltop. The site is now in private hands as part of a land swap with the National Park Service that ended the long-standing legal dispute, which had become entangled in the thorny issues of patriotism and religion.

“Judges and lawyers may have played their roles, but it was the veterans who earned this memorial, and it is for them it rises once more,” said attorney Hiram Sasser of the Liberty Institute, which represented veterans in the legal fight.

The settlement approved by a federal judge in April permitted the Park Service to turn over the acre of land known as Sunrise Rock to a VFW post in Barstow and the Veterans Home of California-Barstow in exchange for five acres of donated property elsewhere in the 1.6 million acre preserve.

NEW YORK

Thousands grow restless as Sandy power losses linger

NEW YORK — New Yorkers railed Sunday against a utility that has lagged in restoring power two weeks after the superstorm that socked the region, criticizing its slow pace as well as a dearth of information.

About 120,000 people in New York and New Jersey remained without power Sunday, including tens of thousands of homes and businesses that were too damaged to receive power at all. More than 8 million lost power during the storm, and some more did during a later nor’easter.

Separately, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet A. Napolitano visited with disaster-relief workers Sunday in Staten Island’s Midland Beach neighborhood, which is still devastated two weeks after Sandy hit.

Perhaps none of the utilities have drawn criticism as widespread, or as harsh, as the Long Island Power Authority. More than 60,000 of the homes and businesses it serves were still without power Sunday, and 55,000 others couldn’t safely connect even though their local grid was back online because their wiring and other equipment had been flooded. It would need to be repaired or inspected before those homes could regain power, LIPA said.

Customers told of calling LIPA multiple times a day for updates and getting no, or conflicting, answers.

MICHIGAN

Man killed in shootout in Detroit-area police station

SOUTHFIELD — Police in suburban Detroit say a man who opened fire in a police station was killed in a shootout with officers.

Southfield police Lt. Nick Loussia said one officer, a 25-year department veteran, was wounded but is in stable condition with a single gunshot wound.

Lt. Loussia said a 64-year-old Southfield man entered police headquarters Sunday afternoon, pointed a handgun at an officer behind protective glass and pulled the trigger.

The gun didn’t fire, and the officer ordered him to drop the gun. Lt. Loussia said the gunman refused that and subsequent repeated orders from other officers.

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