Six Presidents are honored on Mount Soledad. This important memorial in San Diego has a controversial history. The six Presidents are Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, and Harry Truman. This is a disparate and unlikely group of Presidents, but there are reasons why each is on Soledad. Also honored are major Hollywood actors like Academy Award winning Cliff Robertson, sports figures like Ted Williams, important generals, and Medal of Honor recipients.
Today this is a significant National Veterans Memorial to honor both living and deceased veterans who served our Nation, but it used to be merely a religious symbol. The change to veterans led to a constitutional crisis lasting 25 years. It ended in 2016.
Mount Soledad is an 823 feet mountain on the California coast at San Diego. It is a very scenic end-of-a drive view that encompasses mountains to the east, San Diego to the south, other California cities up the coast, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The religious symbol that used to be called the Mount Soledad Easter Cross had to come down. Instead it was reinvented. There were 3 crosses placed here over time, and the 3rd one installed remains. Damaged when dropped way back in 1954, it remains at 6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive in San Diego on the outskirts of an affluent neighborhood. This memorial to honor veterans opens daily from 7 am to 10 pm and is a highly visited spot with ample free parking.
The Easter Cross is now the centerpiece of an attraction that includes several black granite plaques that record the stories of several thousand veterans. Accompanying each story are the honored man and woman’s picture and a list of their accomplishments. The legal challenge that resulted in a violation of the US Constitution lasted from 1989 until 2015. The court finally ruled against San Diego, and a new project began to turn this place of pure religion into a veterans’ memorial with plaques that honor men and women who served in all branches of service. Our nation was the clear beneficiary.