Marines fight to protect crosses at Camp Pendleton as atheist groups seek removal | Fox News
Planted atop a remote hill in the middle of California's Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base rests two 13-foot crosses.
Originally erected back in 2003 by seven Marines grieving over lives lost in the war on terror, this site originally established for reflection has now become grounds for controversy.
It's not a religious spot at all, it's a place for the Marines to grieve and to grow to let go of their burdens of what they had in their soul, so they can go back down that hill and back into battle and put their own lives on the line, says Marine widow Karen Mendoza.
Her husband Ray was one of those original seven who climbed the hill that day, three of whom have since been killed in action, including Ray.
It's a symbol of sacrifice regardless of what you think, pray, like or don't like, says Karen.Someone please explain to me the meaning of the word "tolerance" in this case?But the area has become controversial and more known after a newspaper report last fall detailed the location and posted a picture. In response, several groups filed complaints with Marines arguing the site violated the Constitutional mandate of separation of church and state, including the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers or MAAF. They want the crosses moved to a church on private land and flags or some other symbol used instead to mark the site.
"This Christian crosses need to go to a private Christian instillation and we need to stick to things that honor everyone equally and maintain neutrality towards government," says association president Jason Torpy.