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Controversial Cross in Mojave Desert Stolen

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On the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court case decision on the constitutionality of a war memorial cross in Mojave National Preserve, the item itself has been stolen, the National Park Service is reporting this morning.

"The wooden cover was reported missing from the cross by park staff on Saturday morning, and the uncovered cross was seen again on Sunday," a news release explained. "When park staff arrived on Monday morning to replace the cover, they found that the cross had been removed."

Supreme Court justices in late April rejected a lower court decision banning the 8-foot cross on the grounds that it was purely religious. "It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, notable contributions and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this nation and its people," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, noted the LA Times. The case was sent back to the lower court for reconsideration in that light.

Still held up in court, the National Park Service had to maintain covering up the cross, which has stood on Sunrise Rock in various forms since 1934. Park law enforcement is investigating this crime and is asking for the public’s assistance. The Veterans of Foreign Wars is offering a $25,000 award for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.