Vietnam memorial

Veterans want memorial to stay in Mingus Park

2013-03-21T15:55:00Z 2013-09-12T10:38:13Z Veterans want memorial to stay in Mingus ParkBy Thomas Moriarty, The World Coos Bay World
March 21, 2013 3:55 pm  • 

COOS BAY — Local veterans are rallying to defend a cross-shaped Vietnam War memorial in Coos Bay’s Mingus Park.

“We do not see the cross as having anything to do with religion,” said Mark Winders, himself a Vietnam veteran and director of Pointman Ministries.

He expects local vets will show up en masse at a special April 2 Coos Bay City Council meeting, where the memorial will be the only agenda item.

“The vets want to make a stand and keep the cross where it’s at,” Winders said. “It’s a matter of principle.”

Western Bank and the Bay Area Jaycees donated the war memorial in 1972, and it has stood in the park ever since. Green and mossy, it blended into the park scenery until the city applied a fresh “skin” of white grout in 2011.

 Now it has become the latest skirmish in America’s long-term conflict over the separation of church and state. 

The city received a letter in February from the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, asking the city to move the cross immediately. The letter from foundation lawyer Rebecca Markert said the organization had no problem with war memorials in general. 

“Our objection is to the message of endorsement of Christianity over other religions and over nonreligion,” Markert wrote. “Additionally, the Christian-only memorial sends a message that the government only cares about the deaths of Christian soldiers, not Jewish, other non-Christian and nonreligious soldiers.”

The Coquille-based South Coast Skeptics Society also wants the cross removed. 

“While we respect the good intentions of the Bay Area Jaycees and Western Bank, we are concerned that the upper portion of the memorial, the part displaying the cross, is exclusionary and illegal,” spokeswoman Dawn Brittain said in a letter to The World’s Public Forum.

City officials don’t know how they would pay for a legal battle, City Manager Roger Craddock said. The city’s insurance might not cover it.

The Mingus Park memorial is not the only local war memorial with religious themes. Pointman Ministries’ own memorial, which includes scriptural messages, stands on public land beside U.S. Highway 101, just north of the McCullough Bridge.

While the Oregon Department of Transportation owns the land, the group has a 25-year lease.

Reporter Thomas Moriarty can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or by email at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.

Copyright 2015 Coos Bay World. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(48) Comments

  1. Stephanie
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    Stephanie - April 25, 2013 11:01 pm
    I agree with James31254, why all of a sudden these group of people think of themselves as more important then the rest of the citizens who are perfectly fine with the memorial? Is it because these Atheists have no lives? Because they have nothing better to do then sit around and pick out something THEY want removed from public land? Is the whole world supposed to bow to Atheists, and the government change? The government is working on putting a stop to these actions taken by groups like FFRP
  2. Stephanie
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    Stephanie - April 25, 2013 10:46 pm
    Just because he is defending a memorial, does not mean he's a religious fanatic. I am not religious, but I believe there's a God and a Satan. The cross has been around since BEFORE Jesus Christ was here, in fact one of the oldest crosses was found to be 1600 BC (Before Christ)..and it was found among the ruins of the Temple Repositories of Knossos in Greece but the people didn't use it as a religious symbol. Their own religious symbol was of two horns. So, what was the cross for? Burial.
  3. Stephanie
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    Stephanie - April 20, 2013 12:09 am
    Actually Pilot is correct, if you look on The Us Constitution, Charters of Freedom website, it tells the exact history of American Independence, and includes the words "Lord" "Creator" "Christianity" "Divinity" and "Days of Noah"..These men signed the Declaration of Independence: "The year of our Lord" and no they were not referring to the King, because the American colonies had broken away from the King Of England to establish a separate country, The USA. This is the correct research.
  4. Stephanie
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    Stephanie - April 20, 2013 12:00 am
    The foundation of our country was founded on Christianity, Fact: the Declaration of Independence has the word "creator" in it, as well as the Constitution having "Lord" and "The days of Noah." The Constitution was never intended for religious freedom to be taken as "removal" of memorials representing the dead, it was intended for freedom of religious practices. The Jewish have symbols on their memorials representing their religion, should they take those down as well? FFRF group: get a life
  5. james31254
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    james31254 - April 05, 2013 8:45 am
    BTW separation of Church and State means that nobody especially the state or government has a right to dictate when and where religious symbols are displayed or what people should and should not believe. It doesn't give you or me a right to not be offended. You are the one that is offended, which was not the intent at all for the cross, but life is life and it's not perfect...stuff happens.
  6. james31254
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    james31254 - April 05, 2013 8:39 am
    If I am not mistaken this is a private group that wants the cross removed and has nothing to do with the state or government, so your argument doesn't hold water. If it were an islamic symbol then the tune would be different. Something tells me nothing would be said. If people have a problem with religious symbols it always seems to be with just Christian symbols. Funny how that works don't you think?
  7. james31254
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    james31254 - April 05, 2013 8:14 am
    In case you didn't notice you don't own the land either. It has been there 40 years and nobody had a problem with it. So, you don't have a right to have it removed either. If you don't like it you should have said something when it was originally put there. I see how you are willing to limit my freedom of speech while, but make sure yours are not "So called" limited. I am not forcing my religious beliefs on anybody. You can believe or not believe it's up to you.
  8. justaguy
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    justaguy - March 28, 2013 12:19 pm
    And for the record....Nazism is a political movement....not a religion.
  9. lakeside
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    lakeside - March 26, 2013 8:03 pm
    Hey Mr. Straw Man, I mean atheistme! Thank you for the definition, it'll be more difficult to wriggle your way out of your own arguments. I stated what the First Amendment guarentees to the citizens reguarding religion and free speech, which you are also afforeded such protection. You spat back something about Nazis and upsidedown crucifixes, neither of which are applicable to the struggle at hand, but good job knocking down your own "straw man". The cross is a symbol of sacrifice, period!!!
  10. lakeside
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    lakeside - March 26, 2013 7:04 pm
    Once again, it's clear that another "secular" progressive hasn't read the Constitution. The First Amend. was written in simple, concise and clear language, so even those that wish to subvert it's meaning can still understand it. The National Socialist Party, (Nazis) is a political affiliation, not a religion. An upsidedown crucifix placed in memorial of our veterans would certainly be controversial, but you atheists make your point in the public square frequently hiding behind the First Amend.
  11. 60something
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    60something - March 26, 2013 12:20 pm
    Hey Pilot34, you are so, so wrong. This country was never founded on Christianity and you are a fool to believe it and a jerk to not have done the research to find out. Believe what you will, but it is not true. The founders were Deists and had strong objections to organized religion. The continuation of this founding myth is not based on fact.
  12. CBNBcitizen
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    CBNBcitizen - March 25, 2013 2:27 pm
    Great we have something else to divide us. We have the vet's and their families that were glad someone took time to remember what they gave to this nation and put up a memorial cross or no cross. Then we have those who want to jump to defend the Freedom From Religion people who want to remove any markers to god be they Christian, Jew or Allah worshippers. Then there is the christians that will fight to the end to support any cross. We don't need a law suit to settle this, compromise anyone?
  13. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 10:44 am
    Based on your learned understanding of the constitution, I guess I can erect a memorial in the park with a swastika or an upside down crucifix on top, if I consider it my free exercise of religion.
  14. Pilot34
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    Pilot34 - March 25, 2013 10:30 am
    This separation of Church and State is a crock! This country was founded on Christian princiibles. The goverment can not have a state religion or interfer with any religion. if you notice many goverment building have thing like the 10 comandments at the Suprume Court. This is a Chisitan nation no one is forced in to any religion. If you do not like this country try a Muslim country and see how you get!
    That cross on the memorial is not about religion, It is about remembering veterans.
  15. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 10:09 am
    For the same reason it can't have the cross now. Do you really think that hasn't been thought of??? No, the memorial is NOT: Quid pro quo. The constitution is Quid pro quo.
  16. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 9:58 am
    I meant "Now the park is private, because you say so"
  17. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 9:45 am
    Who said anything about a flag? Typical straw-man argument (means you've changed the argument and debunked it, ignoring the original argument)
    I guess some people just some sort of symbol to rally around to feel special.
    And please, if you ask 100 people on the street (even in China) what the cross was and what it meant, 100 of them would tell you that it represents the christian religion.
  18. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 9:20 am

    It's not the memorial that is objectionable. It is the religious symbol on top of the memorial which excludes all non-christians that is objectionable. I for one honor and respect and have a deep heart-felt appreciation for their sacrifice.
    If the memorial is intended to honor ALL veterans (except for women), why does it have to have a CHRISTIAN symbol on top? The cross implies that only the christians who gave their lives for our country are worthy of our gratitude.
  19. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 9:09 am
    What? Now the park is public? Just because you say so?
    You can't vote to violate the constitution.
    Who is WE? Only christians pay taxes? REALLY?
    You don't have to be a city slicker to understand the constitution.
    We're here and we have our opinion....get over it. Maybe you'll learn something.
  20. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 8:59 am
    If you haven't noticed, you don't own the land. Why don't you move, if you think that is the only solution?
    What you don't seem to realize that is is YOU and your kind that are forcing YOUR religious beliefs on the rest of US. If you need to express your belief, put a cross up in your yard, or wear one around your neck....don't put one up in a park that belongs to ALL of us...christians and non-christians alike. Thank you.
  21. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 25, 2013 8:43 am
    If anyone is pushing anyone around, it's religious fanatics like you who think you have the right to express your personal religious belief in the form of a monument on public property. Nobody is pushing or disrespecting vets. What is being challenged is the unconstitutional exclusionary religious symbol on the top of a monument that should honor and remember ALL veterans.
  22. xiphos
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    xiphos - March 25, 2013 12:52 am
    MIzzJesi, go to the website Fill out the petition and send a message. On top of that send an email to
  23. yonnie
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    yonnie - March 24, 2013 10:12 pm
    We have no-clue as to how many times local residents have complained about this cross in our park. People like Gene would "sweep" it under the rug and nobody would even hear about it! Thank you FFRF!
  24. yonnie
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    yonnie - March 24, 2013 10:08 pm
    The Latin cross is recognized the world over as the symbol for christians. Sorry you don't get out much. It is also well recognized as a murder by torture machine and still used as such today.
  25. yonnie
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    yonnie - March 24, 2013 10:06 pm
    You didn't ask me! I'm a veteran and I'm opposed to crosses on public property! Don't try to tell me that all veterans want crosses, or that all veterans are christians! That is nonsense!
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    IHAVEEYES - March 24, 2013 3:13 pm
    well said
  27. Geno activist for all
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    Geno activist for all - March 23, 2013 11:31 pm
    MizzaJesi; Because, they have to live in their State, Not in Oregon! Unfortunately the US Courts ruled against any Religious Items be placed on or near a Public Buildings or Parks! Federal, States, Counties and Cities must abide! I agree We are the Land of Laws!! However, I claim: "We the People" live in the :Land of FEES! To pay to be" FREE!!"
    Put up the 'Iron Cross' then they may be happy!! Because if we had lost that War, that is exactly what Cross would be there! Remove All Flags on
  28. Geno activist for all
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    Geno activist for all - March 23, 2013 11:21 pm
    The Cross, is a symbol of many things, and can mean many things! The plaque is the only part that represents anything, anyone just a place; Vietnam! The Plaque could have Vietnam removed to say to all who gave! The Cross could be painted Red, White and Blue and called a Flag!! If if these 'remove it or lose it, people will make all remove American Flags from Public Areas!! The flag represents America; Red for Blood, White for purity, Blue for non-believers? Regardless, Land of Laws! USA!
  29. rosejeff42903
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    rosejeff42903 - March 23, 2013 10:36 pm
    So let me get this right. The monument has stood where it is at for 41 years. Now someone who does not have anything better to do complains about it and thinks it should be removed. I say if you dont like the looks of something than just dont look. It is a memorial to our fallen soldiers, who cares what it looks like as long as it stands for something so important as people dieing for our freedom. I say leave it alone.
  30. james31254
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    james31254 - March 23, 2013 8:31 pm
    Whoever the local person(s) who complained to get the FFRF involved is....why don't you just move? We are not taking away your freedoms of expression for the way you believe or don't believe. What makes it right for you to do it to the rest of us?
  31. james31254
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    james31254 - March 23, 2013 8:31 pm
    Another case of political correctness run amuck. It's been there for 40 years and the very Veterans it honors, fought for the right to have it with or without a cross. I'm sick of being pushed around, sick of seeing our Vets pushed around, and sick of mistreatment that seems to be the norm!
  32. RelaxThereIsNoGod
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    RelaxThereIsNoGod - March 23, 2013 2:21 pm
    Christians weren't the only people to die in Vietnam. This memorial implies that everyone was a Christian, and this is wrong. Let's not forget the fact that we have separation of church and state, which for some odd reason nobody but a few people here seem to understand that. If they had put up the Islamic Crescent and Star I bet you guys would be singing a COMPLETELY different tune.
  33. 60something
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    60something - March 23, 2013 12:00 pm
    Pardon me, but it seems that there were many brave young men who were not followers of a Christian religious belief who died fighting for our country, in Vietnam. Their names are on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. Every memorial for service in that war should reflect all Veterans without excluding any who were there. And that includes all those who do not follow the cross. Move or amend this memorial.
  34. justaguy
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    justaguy - March 23, 2013 10:08 am
    I personally have no problem with displaying a cross in a public park as long as others are allowed to do the same. Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, Native American, Shinto, Atheist.....the list goes on and on. Wow....that park is going to get pretty crowded.
  35. Secularme
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    Secularme - March 23, 2013 8:03 am
    If "The World" was reporting this news item without prejudice the title would begin with "Some". The title implies that ALL veterans want THIS memorial to stay. It's a CROSS. THE most important symbol of all christian religions! Does the torture device on the top of the memorial deny, ignore or offend those of other and no religion? Of course! And before your respond with something meaningless like "We're a christian nation" look up "tyranny of the majority".
  36. KHornstuen
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    KHornstuen - March 23, 2013 7:30 am
    What is next? Arlington Cemetery is Federal ground...Geez, I have rights, too, to view the cross however I please. Freedom goes both ways, and this country was founded on that freedom.
  37. lakeside
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    lakeside - March 23, 2013 1:56 am
    What...? K.
  38. lakeside
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    lakeside - March 23, 2013 1:44 am
    Lady Gaga: The reason that the First Amendment came before the rest, was for the fact that our nation was founded by those who escaped persecution for religious beliefs. The First Amendment, prohibits the government from "establishing" a religion, those rights are reserved for the individual. The First Amendment, prohibits "impeding the free exercise" of religion. Then, freedom of speech is mentioned. Have you actually read it? What is it, that you don't understand? Frustrating, it's so simple!
  39. Greybeard
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    Greybeard - March 22, 2013 7:58 pm
    I don't recall Oregon voting on this monument Derrick, did I miss something? If the cross does not represent your religion then it must be a medieval torture device. Do you want that on top of your monument?
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    QUID PRO QUO - March 22, 2013 7:46 pm
    Why doesn't the city just donate the "cross" to the Pointman Ministries group to distance themselves from Church and State as Rebecca Markert seems so worried about, then lease that specific spot in the park to Pointman Ministries for $.01 per year? I will donate a dollar to cover the first hundred years.
  41. Lady Godfrey
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    Lady Godfrey - March 22, 2013 4:32 pm
    The FFRF, based in Madison, WI, does not just randomly look for church-State violations to complain about. They respond to concerns from locals. People who have objections to church-State violations often are treated very badly if their name gets out, from ostrasization to death threats.

    The FFRF maintains anonymity for the complainant, provides legal backing, and attempts to correct the problem without anyone suffering.

    Lambchop, I'd be fine with the memorial if it were religiously neutral
  42. JesLeFos
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    JesLeFos - March 22, 2013 10:20 am
    If the memorial is found to be in conflict with the law, yes, they can. However the city can counter sue for damages. Also: there is going to be a public meeting April 2nd at the Coos Bay Public Library to discuss the situation.
  43. Derrick Fridge
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    Derrick Fridge - March 22, 2013 9:56 am
    I say tell the WISCONSIN non-profit to go home... This is just as bad as when you find a nice sleepy old year style community and then a bunch of city slickers want to come in and make it like the old place they wanted out of... Just send them on their way and tell them to take their opinions and wants with them. We Oregonian taxpayers pay for the park and we say leave it alone. As far as I am concerned, its private Oregonian property and we allow guests to visit.
  44. lambchops
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    lambchops - March 22, 2013 8:30 am
    @ Godfrey, why don't you be a "lady" and put up your own memorial? This one has been just fine in Mingus Park for over 40 years?
  45. Lady Godfrey
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    Lady Godfrey - March 22, 2013 6:28 am
    When did the cross cease to be a religious symbol? It is on the tops of innumerable churches in this country, millions of people around the world wear it as jewelry and as a sign of their Christian beliefs. To claim that it is somehow not a religious symbol is disingenuous at least and a hypocritical lie at worst.
    If the cross were removed from the memorial, it would no less honor veterans and those who died in service, but would represent all equally. The time of Christian privilege is over.
  46. MizzJesi
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    MizzJesi - March 21, 2013 5:24 pm
    I want to know why it is that a group who does not even live in this state has the right to tell us what to do! Is there somewhere non~veterans can send emails, or letters in support of the memorial? If the people of the city agree, can they still make us move it?
  47. Shovelhead Bill
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    Shovelhead Bill - March 21, 2013 4:56 pm
    TELL THEM TO GO PACK SAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  48. DHCollins
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    DHCollins - March 21, 2013 4:46 pm
    “We do not see the cross as having anything to do with religion”

    Really? Most people around the world associate it with Christianity. You don't? Christianity IS a religion. Eventhough I've heard arguments to the contrary. Isn't this something like denying Jesus by his disciples? Naughty boy.

    Personally, I'm indifferent to the monument. You guys got suckered into another war we didn't have any business with. That, I'm sorry for.

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