Editor’s note: View the gallery to see photos of the cross. The start of the gallery is from the peak and it ends with a view from Basilone Road.
Since Veterans Day, a 13-foot cross has stood atop a San Onofre Mountain peak overlooking Camp Horno. At its base are rocks painted with messages, dog tags and offerings of whiskey for fallen Marines.
Last month, family members and friends of fallen Marines carried the fire retardant cross up a steep and slippery climb and erected it as a memorial to Marines who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. However, they did so without permission from Camp Pendleton officials.
Members of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers quickly demanded it be taken down. An opinion piece in The Huffington Post by Chris Rodda, senior research director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, countered arguments by supporters of the cross.
The cross has garnered support on Facebook. On Patch, a reader wrote a letter . Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, of El Cajon, wrote a letter to Camp Pendleton's base commander in support of a cross. The congressman served in the same unit as the Marines the cross memorializes.
A legal team is reviewing the case and a decision could be weeks away, according to Maj. Amy Punzel, a Marine Corps Installations West spokeswoman.
Do you believe the cross should stay up or be taken down? Vote in the poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments. If you have photos or videos of the memorial, please upload them to the gallery. If you have a longer opinion on the cross, you can write a letter to the editor and send it to email@example.com. Please keep it to fewer than 500 words and use your real name.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated for whom the cross was erected and who carried the cross. The information has been clarified.