- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2007

If you think the American Civil Liberties Union’s interest in removing memorial markers from military cemeteries and other treasured locations is simply a matter of clarifying church-state jurisdictions … you’re gravely mistaken.

On Mount Soledad, overlooking San Diego, crosses of one kind or another have stood since 1913. The current edition, erected in 1954, was designed as a memorial to Korean War veterans. For more than 75 years, no one complained, and the cross became a treasured landmark to most of the San Diego community.

Then, in 1989, one atheist decided the cross on the hill offended him, and the ACLU hurried to his aid, waving the so-called “separation of church and state” doctrine.

Almost 20 years later — despite the outspoken wishes of the great majority of San Diego citizens and the deliberate protections of the U.S. Congress, the ACLU doggedly persists in its efforts to tear down this landmark.

Meanwhile, a similar showdown has been going on out in the Mojave Desert, where a 70-year-old memorial cross honors those who died in World War I. Across those seven decades, not one citizen ever filed a single complaint against the memorial. But some ACLU attorneys got wind of it, anyway, and a judge listened.

When Congress tried to move the cross to private property, the judge nullified the legislators’ order. Then, to add petty insult to legal injury — he has had the cross covered with a box, pending a resolution to this still-ongoing case.

Understand, there is big money involved here, as well as points of law. ACLU attorneys can haul down some fat fee awards when they win cases. And anyone going up against them faces a legal juggernaut of virtually limitless resources. Government officials sued by the ACLU know what’s coming, and far too often, that fear alone is enough to let the ACLU “win” another one.

That gives ACLU attorneys a wonderful incentive for tearing down these markers, and local citizens very little reason to oppose them.

Well, the American Legion is opposing them, anyway. With the strong legal assistance of the Alliance Defense Fund and Liberty Legal Institute, it has managed to keep both of these historic markers standing and saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We believe the efforts of the ACLU are misdirected and contrary to the will of the American people and the spirit of our Constitution. Therefore, the American Legion will continue to fight for the right of all Americans to publicly display any symbol that reaffirms that we are, indeed, “one nation under God.”

Paul A. Morin of Chicopee, Mass., is national commander of the 2.7 million-member American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization.

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