LOS ANGELES (CN) – Nearly 20 years of litigation over a 29-foot, concrete cross on Mt. Soledad in San Diego has resulted in a federal ruling that the cross should stand, having a secular purpose as a memorial to fallen soldiers.
“The venerable history of the memorial informs the Court’s analysis,” said Judge Larry Burns, a Federal Judge in San Diego.
“San Diego has long been known as a ‘Navy town’ with a strong military presence,” wrote Burns in a 36-page opinion. He said an objective observer, mindful of the memorial’s place in the city’s military history, would see the federal government’s decision to take over the memorial as “an effort to preserve an important regional landmark.”
The judge said that although religious events, such as Easter sunrise services, have taken place at the memorial , the primary effect of the memorial remained “patriotic and nationalistic.”
The judge noted that a ruling against the memorial could threaten veterans’ memorials throughout the nation, considering the large number of crosses located at military memorial sites.
“The Court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily non-religious messages of military service, death and sacrifice,” Burns concluded. “As such, despite its location on public land, the memorial is Constitutional.”