Frank Woodruff Buckles was born in Missouri 109 years ago. He is a national hero and the last living American veteran of World War I. But as we observed this Veterans Day – a day conceived as a celebration of the end of that bloody war – there was no national monument to honor Mr. Buckles and 5 million other Americans who served our nation in uniform then. The sole National Monument to World War I has been destroyed by vandals, and the Obama administration refuses to allow its replacement, even by private citizens, even at private expense.
In 1934, John Bembrey, along with several fellow veterans, erected a simple cross on a granite outcrop in the Mojave Desert. Their intention was to commemorate the sacrifice made by their comrades in the Great War, and for the next 65 years, this modest memorial was quietly maintained by volunteers. In 2000, the Mojave Desert Cross was designated by the U.S. Congress as the only official National Monument to World War I.
Then the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other self-appointed guardians of the Constitution argued that the Mojave Desert Memorial Cross was an affront to the principle of separation of church and state. A decade-long battle ensued until April of this year, when the U.S. Supreme Court – the actual arbiter of the Constitution – issued a ruling that the cross could remain.