By James Tillman
MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE, California, May 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- On Thursday a replica of the much-disputed cross stolen from a federal park on May 9 appeared on Sunrise Rock - but officials said the new cross broke park service regulations, and removed it.
To honor veterans of World War I, the Veterans of Foreign Wars had originally placed a wooden cross on Sunrise Rock in 1934 with a plaque stating “The Cross, Erected in Memory of the Dead of All Wars.” It became the site of Easter gatherings starting the following year; it was replaced by a metal cross after time.
In Salazar v. Buono, the ACLU and others filed suit to remove it. Congress transferred the property on which the cross rested to private hands, and on April 28 the Supreme Court of the United States sent the case back down to the district court with orders to consider legality of the land transfer. In the meantime, the cross remained hidden by a wooden cover, making it look like a blank billboard.
Less than two weeks later, the cross was stolen. The Liberty Institute offered a $125,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible removing the cross.
An anonymous letter, purportedly from the thief, said that the government's actions in preserving the cross clearly violated the Constitution and that a non-sectarian memorial should be raised at the site instead.
Sometime between Wednesday and Thursday, a look-alike cross was again raised. Differences between the two were soon noticed, as it had a new paint job, lacked the marks of the previous cross, and was six inches taller. LInda Slater, Mojave National Preserve spokeswoman, said that the new cross was not covered by the Supreme Court ruling.
"Technically, it's illegal," she said, according to the AP. "The park service has regulations about people putting up memorials. You can't just go to a park and put a memorial to a family member."
The cross had been removed by the end of Thursday.
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