Preservation of cross at Mount Soledad depends on president

Two local congressmen have intervened in the 15-year battle to save the cross atop Mount Soledad in La Jolla, Ca. They say their proposition will keep the cross where it is.

Republican Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Duncan Hunter want the site – which includes more than 1,000 plaques honoring veterans – named a national war memorial. They added the veterans’ memorial designation as a rider to a voluminous spending bill that was approved last month by Congress. The bill is awaiting the signature of President George Bush.

Under the bill, the site would become part of the National Park Service and protected. However, it would be maintained by the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, which erected the cross as a tribute to veterans in 1954.

“That cross is not just a religious symbol. It's a symbol of coming of age and of remembrance," said Mark Slomka, pastor of Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church, which has been considered an alternate site for the cross.

A ballot measure, which asked voters to allow the sale of the land to the highest bidder, who would decide whether to destroy, keep or move the cross, was defeated in November.

"This is part of a cultural war. It's a matter of which direction this country is going to go in, and we think it's worth fighting for," said Charles LiMandri in a report to the Washington Post. LiMandri is a lawyer with the Thomas More Law Center, which has been fighting to preserve the cross.

Churches around San Diego are urging their congregations to pray for the cross to be saved. Rallies have been held, and some church members are fasting.

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