In January, one unidentified person made a phone call asking authorities to remove a cross that has stood for 51 years in honor of a fallen Vietnam War soldier at the San Diego County airport in Ocotillo Wells.
Alex Bell, program manager for San Diego County’s Land Use and Environmental Group, told the Los Angeles Times that the person called to complain that the cross was located on county property. The Times notes that the county reportedly confirmed the cross is on its property, 84 feet from the unmarked property line, and Bell said that it was “an establishment of religion and in violation of federal and state constitutions in violation of federal and state constitutions,” and that they are taking steps to address the issue.
However, in May Sherri Kukla, who publishes S&S Off Road Magazine, started an online petition to prevent the monument’s removal. For her, the cross is not religious, but rather “a historical memorial monument” used as a point of reference for off-roaders. It has also comforted people who have lost loved ones for a variety of reasons, she told the Times.
According to the petition, the monument was erected to honor “Jim Bruce Robison, an Ocotillo Wells resident who was killed in action in Vietnam at age 21 in 1966. His house, still owned by the family, is across the street from the cross. The cross also serves as a memorial for two other residents in the community, according to a news article Kukla found in her research.”
Robison’s is one of the names listed on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The letter is addressed to Supervisor Bill Horn, who is in charge of District 5, which includes the area the monument is located in.
So far, the petition has generated 2,951 signatures and requires 2,049 more to achieve the 5,000 mark.
The Ocotillo Airport reportedly receives the second-least amount of aviation traffic of all eight airports San Diego County owns, averaging fewer than 200 takeoffs and landings per month, notes the Times.
Bell has reportedly suggested replacing the cross with the American flag and a memorial plaque to honor fallen members of the United States military.
There is reportedly no official date to remove the cross.