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Contact: Linda Slater, 760 252-6122
Contact: Tracy Schmaler, 202 514-2007
The cross in the national World War I memorial at Sunrise Rock along Cima Road within Mojave National Preserve was reported missing on Monday morning by staff of the National Park Service who went to the site to replace the wooden cover that had been removed from the cross sometime earlier.
Litigation surrounding the memorial has been ongoing since March 2001, when a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, arguing that the display of a cross in the memorial violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Congress designated the site a national memorial commemorating United States participation in World War I and honoring the American veterans of that War. The National Park Service was enjoined from displaying the cross.
The wooden cover was reported missing from the cross by park staff on Saturday morning, and the uncovered cross was seen again on Sunday. When park staff arrived on Monday morning to replace the cover, they found that the cross had been removed.
Park law enforcement is investigating this crime and is asking for the public’s assistance. The Veterans of Foreign Wars is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call 760-252-6120.