Sat, Nov 11|
MOJAVE CROSS EXHIBIT DEDICATION AND VETERANS DAY EVENT
Join us at the Goffs Schoolhouse and Museum on Veterans Day Saturday, November 11, 2023 for the dedication ceremony of the Original Mojave Memorial Cross Veteran’s Monument at the MDHCA Goffs Schoolhouse and Museum.
Time & Location
Nov 11, 2023, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Goffs Schoolhouse, 37198 Lanfair Rd, Essex, CA 92332, USA
About the event
In 1934, John Riley Bembry, a local hard-rock prospector and East Mojave homesteader, joined together with other local homesteaders and erected a wooden cross atop granite boulders near Teutonia Peak. The Cross was intended to pay respect and honor for fallen Veterans of World War 1. After all the other men passed away, J. Riley Bembry remained the steadfast steward of the Mojave Memorial Cross. He maintained and replaced the wooden cross faithfully, eventually declaring the memorial to honor deceased veterans of all wars. The wooden cross continued to be targeted by periodic vandalism, so around 1978 Bembry asked his good friend Henry Sandoz to fabricate a metal cross. Bembry, being 40 years senior, appealed to Henry & Wanda Sandoz if they would continue to maintain the Mojave Memorial Cross as his health was failing. J. Riley Bembry died January 7, 1984, and more than 100 local residents attended his funeral. He is buried in the vicinity of his cabin.
This is a story of a promise made and promise kept. Henry and Wanda Sandoz continued as stewards of the Mojave Memorial Cross, even though neither of them served in the U. S. military. In 1994, 60 years after the Cross was erected, the National Park Service took over the surrounding 1.6 million acres from the Bureau of Land Management. In 1999, an environmentalist and retired NPS employee named Frank Buono made a formal complaint about the Mojave Memorial Cross, stating that it’s presence offended him because it violated the constitutional principle of separation of Church and State. The Sandoz’s refused to remove the Cross, resulting in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The matter was adjudicated first in the California District Courts, and was elevated to the United States Supreme Court. On April 28, 2010, the Supreme Court released it’s decision that the Memorial Cross could remain in place. A few days after the momentous ruling, an unidentified vandal cut down and stole the 76 year old monument that Bembry and Sandoz had worked so hard to preserve. On Veteran’s Day November 11, 2012, Henry Sandoz rededicated the Memorial by erecting a replacement metal memorial cross in place of the stolen original.
The stolen original Mojave Memorial Cross was then found abandoned on the side of a road, 400 miles away, in Half Moon Bay, CA. Attached to the abandoned cross was a note that indicated it was, indeed, the famed controversial cross that was stolen. The original Cross was returned to the Sandoz’s, where it was hidden away and stored in a private location for ten years. In January of 2022, Wanda Sandoz was contacted by the MDHCA to see if she would donate the actual Cross for which the Supreme Court case was based. The “Original” Mojave Memorial Cross is now at the Goffs Cultural Center to serve as an interpretive display and a monument to all Veterans.
Join us at the Goffs Schoolhouse and Museum on Veterans Day Saturday, November 11, 2023 for the dedication ceremony of the Original Mojave Memorial Cross Veteran’s Monument at the MDHCA Goffs Schoolhouse and Museum. The Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW post 9375 & 1508 will present a color guard flag ceremony and 21 gun salute. Guests will include Lorretta Bembry Boring, Jess Bembry and Wanda Sandoz. Keynote speaker will be Col. Erik Gramling, Chaplain, U.S. Army Ft. Irwin National Training Center.
Lunch will be available (by reservation) at 12:00 Noon, followed by the dedication event. Please check back for the updated schedule as the date grows near.
RSVP is necessary for lunch; Goffs is a “ghost town” so we need a headcount to make sure we have adequate provisions for everyone.
Cost: Admission to the Grounds is free. Donations of any denomination are graciously accepted.
- Lunch is free to Veterans with a military ID
- $10 donation per person appreciated for lunch and refreshments.
- Children under 12 free
Bring: MDHCA has limited folding chairs available. Please bring your own portable seat if possible
Weather conditions are unpredictable, please be prepared. Rain umbrellas are a good source of portable shade in the mid-day sun.
Wear suitable footwear if you would like to tour the museum grounds. We have many interesting artifacts outdoors as well as our restored 1914 one-room schoolhouse. The grounds are rustic and unpaved.
Location: MDHCA Goffs Schoolhouse and Museum, 37198 Lanfair Road, Essex CA. Goffs is 10 miles northeast of Fenner CA. Exit Goffs Road / Route 66 from I-40. Alternatively, head westbound on Goffs Road / Route 66 from U.S. Route 95. (Note that the street address is formally “Essex” because Goffs is a ghost town).
Other Details :
Memberships to the museum are always available. There is a small gift shop and we accept cash and credit payments. Restroom facilities available.
Schedule : Please check back again later! Scheduling of presenters is currently in progress and to be announced.
Lunch begins at 12:00 Noon and the Dedication will follow directly after lunch around 1 PM.
Memorial Bricks also for sale to honor Veterans
To create an ongoing legacy of honor, you can purchase an engraved brick as tribute to the Veteran of your choice. This memorial is intended as a living memorial as well as one for those who have passed on. The MDHCA will use these bricks to encircle the Mojave Cross exhibit with a Veterans walkway of honor. Our first order of bricks will be finished and displayed at the November 11 event. Order your memorial brick here.
$10 donation per person appreciated for lunch and refreshments.$10.00+$0.25 service fee
Children under 12
Lunch and refreshments for children under 12 years of age.$0.00
Lunch and refreshments for Military Veterans. Proof of ID required.$0.00