A large crowd turned out at Mount Soledad for a pro-cross rally on Saturday. Photo: Dave Schwab
Signs let everyone know what people were thinking. Photo: Dave Schwab
Clear skies along the coast gave those at the rally spectacular views. Photo: Dave Schwab
Speakers called for supporters to defend the cross at the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial. Photo: Dave Schwab
By Dave Schwab Staff Writer
About 300 people turned out at a pro-cross rally atop Mount Soledad Memorial this morning filled with revivalist overtones.
Bearing flags and banners, the majority of those in the assemblage were in La Jolla protesting the Ninth Circuit Court’s recent decision declaring the Soledad Cross to be unconstitutional on federally owned land because it is a religious symbol violating the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. Some carried signs saying, “Defend the wall … keep religion out of government.”
“When I was a kid this was a wooden cross and all of this (memorial) wasn’t here,” said Sam Spidal of Carlsbad, a military contractor.”The core of this thing that’s frustrated so many people is 20 years ago a guy filed a lawsuit to remove a cross that had already been here for decades and decades because it offended him. I get offended every day. This is as much about the establishment clause as it is about freedom of speech. People are getting fed up with one judge overturning the will of the people. The history of San Diego is really tied to Mount Solead and I hope it (cross) stays.”
“I’m a veteran and I’m sick and tired of people using this, which is a monument to veterans, for their political and religous agendas,” said “New York” Myke Shelby, owner of San Diego Harley Davidson motorcycles and an unsuccessful mayoral candidate who ran because of the Soledad cross issue. “Leave it alone. Let this issue rest, just like those who have died for us are now resting.”
Dennis Agajanian, a Christian present at the rally to play his guitar and sing, said, “A lot of people say this is a Christian thing, but Mike (Shelby) is Jewish. He looks at the freedoms we should have in this country, and the military should have to keep that cross up there. It’s a time of confrontation, not negotiation. It’s time that we started standing up for the truth, and for our freedom.”
“The fact is we were founded on distinct, Judeo-Christian, Biblical values,” said Pastor Jim Garlow during formal speaking presentations at the event.”That means that the cross is not some violation of the establishment clause. It is not establishment to recognize the uniqueness of our particular heritage, our particular history.”
Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Law Center noted the Soledad Cross, built in 1954, is a “familiar and treasured landmark, adding that the Ninth Circuit’s recent decision flaunts the will of the people.
“We got Proposition A on the ballot and 76 percent of you showed up to vote to keep this cross intact, keep the memorial as it is, where it is,” he said. “There have been setbacks along the way before we got that 76 percent vote. We believe the (federal) Justice Department can and will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take the (Soledad) case. But we want to leave nothing to chance. So we’re asking you to please fill out a card to send to the White House and to urge the president to request that the Attorney General petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.”
Many events were cancelled due to physical distancing requirements. Some were replaced with online events using Zoom, etc. and a few presentations were recorded and are available for replay. Online events have allowed some members living elsewhere now to re-connect with those still local. More guest presenters have been involved, another small silver lining for this pandemic. Other in-person events, mainly volunteer opportunities at essential organizations like the Red Cross, were modified and are still being held.
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