Anonymous donor offering $100,000 reward to find those who stole WWI cross at center of ACLU challenge

Alex Pappas | Political Reporter

An anonymous donor is offering $100,000 for leads in the hunt for the thieves responsible for stealing the World War I memorial cross that’s been at the center of a decade-long legal battle.

The cross of the Mojave Desert War Memorial in California — erected 75 years ago as a memorial in honor of America’s World War I veterans — disappeared earlier this week, just two weeks after the US Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling on its removal. “These thieves desecrated a national war memorial that was erected to honor America’s war dead,” said Thomas J. Tradewell Sr, the national commander of the 2.1 million member Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled that instead of forcing the veterans to remove the cross, a federal judge should consider a plan allowing the federally owned land to be transferred to private ownership. The cross was located in a 1.6 million-acre preserve 70 miles south of Las Vegas.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars first placed a cross in the location 1934, in memory of fallen soldiers during World War I.

All that’s known about the donor is that he’s a “wounded veteran who was the recipient of the Silver Star Medal,” according to a press release from the group Family Security Matters. “We are confident that our donor’s generosity will help to bring the criminals to justice and that the message rings loud and clear: we will never allow such a vile crime that defiles the memory our nation’s war dead to stand,” said Carol Taber, President of Family Security Matters. “Not now, not ever.”

The donation increases the total award money to $125,000, following a $25,000 reward from group Liberty Institute.

Family Security Matters has established a tip hotline, and anyone with information is asked to call 202-528-4665 or email

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