About nine years ago, seven Marines erected two crosses in a remote part of the camp, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They did this to help them cope with the gruesome reality of their jobs. Marines are willing to die so that Americans can enjoy freedom. But they must not only be willing to sacrifice their lives, but also the emotional well being of their children as well. When a parent dies, a child suffers.
The job of protecting our freedoms is alone amongst occupations in the magnitude of sacrifice required.
And so when a Marine is preparing him or herself to possibly die for others, he or she must come to grips with their emotional and spiritual self. That is why militaries have chaplains. It is simply a requirement of military readiness that Marines and other soldiers be able to deal with the heavy toll that comes with sacrificial employment.
Seven Marines went up that hill to erect the crosses to help them deal with the fact that others had given their lives before them. Karen Mendoza, a wife of one of the Marines who erected the cross said, “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.”
These crosses were not erected by the military, they were erected by individual Marines. The government does not maintain these crosses. Individuals who are ready to die for others are maintaining these crosses. This is not about the government establishing religion. This is about Marines personally coming to grips with a job that requires the ultimate sacrifice.
Seven Marines went up to erect this memorial in honor of those who died in service to their country. Four of those seven, Maj. Douglas Zembiec, Maj. Ray Mendoza, Lance Cpl. Aaron Austin and Lance Cpl. Robert Zurheide, have since paid the ultimate price for their country. Austin and Zurheide were killed in Fallujah in 2004. Mendoza was killed in 2005 while leading Marines into combat near the Syrian border. Zembiec was killed in 2007 while leading a raid on insurgents in Baghdad.
But some people know no shame. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) want the crosses moved and have threatened to sue the Camp if they do not get their way. According to their president Jason Torpy, ”These Marines were abusing their access to the installation when they went on to it and start[ed] building things”
We, at the Alliance Defense Fund, are offering our services free of charge to the Camp to defend the rights of its Marines to prepare themselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as they prepare themselves to make the ultimate sacrifice.
These Marines died for our freedoms, including the freedom to worship. Shouldn’t they have those same freedoms?