All too many of those brave Americans paid the ultimate price, sacrificing their lives, many never found and others only their remains being returned. Hundreds of thousands of our brave fallen remain buried in foreign lands, families and loved one unable to visit their graves to even pay their respects.
Across the land, Memorials have been erected in remembrance of those who gave their lives for all of us. Memorials where loved ones and family could congregate leaving mementos or pay their respects to their missing loved ones.
Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, days set aside to show honor and respect to those who have stood between the citizens and our enemies, communities across the country gather at these Memorials. Speeches are made, Veterans are recognized for their sacrifices and the fallen are honored as the true heroes of our country.
Memorials since the founding of the nation have been erected in various shapes and sizes honoring all who fallen and to Veterans, families and loved ones of the fallen, sit on sacred hallowed land.
How tragic, how dispirited is it that now, decades after the raising of these Memorials, a small minority have taken it upon themselves to seek the destruction of these Memorials because the shape of some of them, a simple cross, is ‘offensive’ to them and them alone?
Vandals over the years have taken it upon themselves to deface and demean Memorials and graves of Veterans, but none have engaged in the outright assault on our Memorials as has the American Civil Liberties Union, a group of attorney’s who proclaim they are upholding the U.S. Constitution by using any portion of it they can to deny a majority of the people our right to pay our respects to the memories of our Brave Heroes, should our parents and grandparents have chosen to erect a Veterans Memorial in the simple shape of a cross.
They led the fight to force the destruction of the simple cross erected deep in the Mojave Desert by Veterans of World War One. Losing that battle temporarily by Supreme Court decree, unknown Vandals took upon themselves to sneak out into the desert under the cover of darkness and remove it.
Efforts to replace it, at our expense remain ignored by the very government that sends these Heroes off to war!
The ACLU has been fighting for years now to have yet another Memorial to our fallen Heroes torn down in San Diego County California, even though it too has stood silently for many decades, providing a place of comfort to those who lost loved ones from that region.
For over a decade now, that single Memorial has been under assault by the ACLU targeted for destruction, regardless of efforts to comply with every little nitpicking legal maneuver brought up by them. They have no other desire but the complete destruction of this comforting Memorial.
Recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a frequent ally of the ACLU, once again declared that Memorial “unconstitutional”, marking it for destruction. Veterans and supporters rallied together at the Memorial calling for its preservation and protection from the onslaught of the ACLU.
Legislators from California have introduced legislation, attempting once again to protect our Memorials from being targeted for destruction by the ACLU and others, who feign preservation of the constitution by destroying Veterans Memorials that might be seen by a relative few to be in the shape of the Christian Cross.
Ignored by those misled by the ACLU is that cross is not always just a religious symbol. My friend, Rees Lloyd, a former ACLU attorney told me of the symbols we often us on Memorials,
“Symbols have meaning in collective life. People die for them. For instance the Flag. The Cross manifestly has a religious aspect. But, equally manifestly, it conveys a secular meaning -- the meaning of selfless service and sacrifice for others, and is so understood. Universally. Beyond language barriers. In fact, there is not another symbol so universally recognized as representing selfless service and sacrifice for others, including the ultimate sacrifice of one's life. That is how it is understood at Veterans Memorials, and why it is the symbol so often chosen to honor the war dead.”
Rees is at the front in this fight to preserve our Memorials, representing the American Legion and all of us in California, working to stop this onslaught calling for the destruction of Veterans Memorials.
Veterans and our Associations are taking a stand. One such was recently forwarded to me and I present it to you here,
“As President of the 4th Infantry Division Association of the Great State of California, I believe I speak for the majority of our Association’s Veterans, Past, and Present.
As a Division, our history goes back some 93 years. We have fought, bled, and died protecting those values that this country was founded upon. To desecrate the memories of those that have fallen, no matter what their religion was, if any, to be buried under the most significant symbol known around the world, and then be told that the symbol they fought and bled for is “Unconstitutional,” is not only a slap in their faces, but for this beloved country as well.
Our Veterans are buried under the same Cross, not only in this country but in places all over this world. By telling the world that this country no longer believes that the freedom of religion is worth anything, that we are swayed by individuals like the ACLU, then we are saying that all the sacrifices by our Veterans are in vain.
As Veterans, we all took an oath that we would “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that we should bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” Our forefathers based the very foundation of this country on a “Supreme Being” or “God.” The Cross is but a symbol of our belief in that entity. By not Honoring the basics of our Constitution, we not only defame our forefathers, but the basic purpose of the early settlers in coming to this place now known as the United States of America. By not Honoring what the cross stands for, we are doomed.
It is therefore my Honor to support this fight against the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal and the ACLU and stand behind not only the American Legion, but every Veteran and individual that has fought and/or believed in the principles of this great country.
For God and Country/Steadfast And Loyal
Richard “Rich” Blackaby
Pres. 4th Infantry Division Association, Calif. Association
Past First Vice Commander American Legion Post 79
Proud Blue Star Dad, Uncle and Father-in-Law
Proud Patriot Guard and American Legion Rider Member
How insensitive and uncalled for is it that so few would fight so hard for the destruction of a place of solace and remembrance that so many find comfort in. Loved ones, family, former buddies who might have held those in the arms on the battlefield as they breathed their last and who feel a connection to those lost buddies. All are to be denied a place of peaceful assembly in honor of those fallen because the ACLU “doesn’t like the symbol” chosen long ago?
Would this dislike eventually turn to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of headstones erected in National Cemeteries where our brave are interned?
Veterans, we are once again be called to do battle, but not with guns, artillery or bombs. No, this battle will be in the courts and legislatures to protect the memory of those who died giving and preserving our freedom and liberty.
Just as we once stood up and donned the uniform of our respective branches of the Military, we are called upon once again to stand and support our Veterans Memorials.
We are called upon to urge our respective legislators to support Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R. Ca.) H.R.290 -- War Memorial Protection Act.
We are called upon to write letters to the editors and call in to radio programs across the nation supporting the preservation of our Veterans Memorials and protecting them from the destruction sought by the ACLU and others.
Isn’t it about time that those calling for ‘tolerance’ began offering some?