Monday, April 16, 2012

Atheists Want Marine Memorial Demolished at Pendleton

The atheist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation has caused a Marine Corps investigation into a pair of Christian crosses placed by Marines in an empty, remote spot 3,000 feet up at Camp Pendleton where no one can see them.

For background, read Supreme Court Says No Crosses; Arlington Neither? and also read Federal Appeals Court Rules Cross Unconstitutional

-- From "Memorial crosses at California Marine Corps base ignite debate" by Marty Graham, Reuters 4/13/12

Seven Marines carried the original cross to the top of the mountain, which can only be seen from the base roads, in 2003 to honor fallen Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

Four of those seven Marines have since died in action, including Lance Corporal Robert Zurheide, who was killed in Iraq's Al Anbar province the following year.

The original cross was destroyed during wildfires in 2007 and was replaced in 2008 by a group [of Marines and family members].

Last year a group of Marines hauled a fire-resistant cross up to the mountaintop and placed it up next to the cross installed in 2008. Within days, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation asked that both crosses be removed and replaced with a non-religious memorial.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Marines reviewing whether to let Camp Pendleton cross stay" by Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times 11/22/11

The raising of the cross was not an official or sanctioned Marine Corps activity but rather a private undertaking by Marines and a retired Navy chaplain who served with the four Marines.

Lance Cpl. Aaron Austin and Lance Cpl. Robert Zurheide were killed during the battle for Fallouja in 2004. Maj. Ray Mendoza was killed in Al Qaim in 2005 and Maj. Douglas Zembiec in Baghdad in 2007. The widows of Zurheide and Mendoza helped in hauling the cross up the hill.

"Camp Pendleton legal authorities are researching and reviewing the issue in order to make a judicious decision," the Marine Corps said in a statement . . .

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Marines fight to protect crosses at Camp Pendleton as atheist groups seek removal" by Adam Housley, 4/12/12

Now two symbols are at the end of a brutal 3,000-foot hike that begins at an area of the base called Camp Horno and ends at the top of a ridge line that overlooks vast openness in one direction and the glistening Pacific Ocean in the other.

Here the crosses are blanketed in symbols of valor, sorrow and festivity. You'll see Purple Heart medals, pictures, books, messages, mementos from deployments around the globe and even a bottle or can of the fallen's favorite liquor...all left in remembrance.

But the area has become controversial and more known after a newspaper report last fall detailed the location and posted a picture. In response, several groups filed complaints with Marines arguing the site violated the Constitutional mandate of separation of church and state, including the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers or MAAF. They want the crosses moved to a church on private land and flags or some other symbol used instead to mark the site.

For 10 years, the crosses have stood on the hill without complaint, but the MAAF says if they don't come down soon, it will file a lawsuit and possibly hold protests outside the Marine base gates. [Critics say] the original Marines, while good intentioned, overstepped their bounds by building a shrine without approval or notice from the Corps.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.