Camp Pendleton Cross Defended, Torpy Ignores Second Cross
Which, of course, they didn’t, because the Marines were acting on their own, not on the part of the Corps or the government. (Of course, local attorney Randall Halmud said the group was still culpable: “When they erected their cross on that hilltop, they violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution…”)
Public supporters of the cross, many from the Marine base itself, have swarmed news sites with comments. The people themselves varied from atheist to religious, military to civilian.
A Facebook site has appeared entitled Keep the Camp Pendleton Cross. The page highlights some history of the memorial — a site which contains more than the cross. Notably, the memorial was rebuilt by more than 100 Marines from RCT-1, has been visited by entire units, and was even the subject of a prior Public Affairs news piece.
A few supporters of the memorial seem to have found MAAF Jason Torpy’s website, leaving messages of their discontent.
For the record, no discourse is advanced by advising someone to suck on the end of a shotgun or engage in anatomically impossible sexual acts, as critics did on Torpy’s site. Regardless of someone’s attack on the honor bestowed by a memorial, such insults are reprehensible.
Likewise, there is no call to assume all who oppose Torpy’s attack on the Marines’ conduct are Christians and “haters,” as some have. In fact, many self-identified as something other than Christian.
As more information comes out, it seems the memorial has been up there for some years, and it is obvious its intent has not been to advance any particular religion, or even religion at all. It is on the land of Camp Horno, home to several Marine units.
Besides the cross, the prior discussion noted that Marines have scaled the hill for years and left mementos for their fallen comrades.
Two of the most common memorial artifacts: Beer and rocks. Not exactly your typical unconstitutional Christian-government intrusion.
In fact, rocks are hiked to the top for every fallen Marine. Traditionally, those visiting the memorial drink one beer and leave one for the fallen.
It is entirely possible, and even probable, that the first Marine to climb that hill and remember his fallen friends with a beer did so without any signed approval paperwork. That does not diminish the solemnity of the spot, nor does it require that it be dismantled. As noted above, units have marched the hill and held solemn formations at the site. Marine Colonels spoke highly of their units doing so.
Had it not been for the (positive) LA Times story, it seems Torpy would never have known about the site, even though it has been there for years and has previously been in the news. (Despite his claims, it appears the original complaint was his, not local Marines.) In fact, a Marine Colonel said it had become tradition for every unit to climb the hill to the memorial before each deployment.
Contrary to Torpy’s unsupported assertions, the presence of the cross does not make an otherwise permissible site forbidden (or unconstitutional).
In fact, there’s another cross on Camp Pendleton Torpy either doesn’t know about or has declined to complain about. The land that its on is just as “government” as the Marine memorial, and its even on Christianitos Road. Yes, a US Marine Base has a road named “little Christians.” Which means people entering Pendleton have to drive through the “Little Christians” Gate when they enter the US Marine base.
As an official Marine news release notes, the site on Camp Pendleton, marked with a tall white cross, marks the celebrated first baptism took place in California in 1769. (It was rededicated just this past May.) Two Native American girls were baptized into the Catholic faith.
Think Torpy is bothered by that symbolism on federal land?
As this website and others have pointed out, there are similar crosses serving similar purposes to the Marine memorial in other locations that Torpy has to have known about for years.
Problem is, he knows it would be politically unpalatable to demand the government tear a cross out of the hallowed grounds of Arlington.
It seems Torpy’s politics supersede his principles.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Mike Atchue