Bikers for Christ roll up to Mt. Soledad

Danny Trejo: “Can’t touch a war memorial — remember that.”

Pastor Z and Danny Trejo were greeted at the top of the stairs by veterans.
  • Pastor Z and Danny Trejo were greeted at the top of the stairs by veterans.

The American flag barely moved on August 2. The sound of thunder wasn’t from the gloomy skies above, but from a caravan of motorcycles here in town for national Bikers for Christ weekend.

“Close to 400 bikes showed up to our gathering this day,” said Pastor Z, the organizer of the meeting atop Mount Soledad. Bikers trekked from as far as New Mexico, Texas, and Nevada; Bikers for Christ membership spans all 50 states and to 23 countries. “My brothers from Bikers for Christ helped make this happen, and let’s not forget the support of our Jesus Christ!”

Danny Trejo and Pastor Z

Danny Trejo and Pastor Z

Pastor Z and Machete star Danny Trejo were greeted by American war veterans at the top of the stairs. Pastor Z pulled out his megaphone and whispered, “We are going to start this off the right way, with a word of prayer.”

A big dude down on the grassy section yelled, “I can’t hear #@it,” which caused a few indistinct shouts from others in the crowd.

Many of the bikers present were angered about the prospect of the cross being removed. One of the Vietnam vet bikers stepped up and yelled, “When they take this [cross] down, I’m going to be the first to lay down. When they take me and my bike away, who amongst you will replace me?” Many of his brethren stepped forward.

I found one guy opposed the cross. Paul M., an atheist and a 20-year military veteran dressed in civilian clothes. Paul’s soft-spoken response to why he is opposed to the cross’ presence was, “We need to separate church and state,” but when I asked what bothered him about the cross, he responded, “Because I do not believe in —”

We were then split by a group of bikers walking between us. “Mike,” yelled one of them, “let’s get some grub at the Harley spot on Kearny.” I was happy to oblige. But when I looked for Paul to continue the interview, he had disappeared into the crowd. As I looked to interview more people from the other side of the issue, the rainfall increased. I covered my camera gear and ran to my car. As I loaded up my gear, Paul found me and finished up his take on the cross.

“Back then, this cross did not signify a war memorial,” he said. “It was built to scare away the Jewish community!” After talking to Paul for a few more minutes, the rain subsided and the cul-de-sac was back to normal with mostly tourists roaming about.

I spotted Trejo and Pastor Z putting on their helmets. Before Trejo got on his bike, he turned to the camera and said, “Can’t touch a war memorial — remember that — or Machete will come looking for you!”

Pastor Z had no threat, but a suggestion: “If people get offended by what this country was founded upon, they might want to consider moving.”

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Well, Bikers for Christ couldn't have missed their destination at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial up in the much-embellished middle of the City of San Diego's Mt. Soledad Park.

There's now a gigantic bright 5-by-50 foot-long sign affixed to a south-facing curved concrete wall with the name writ large, round insignias for each military service branch and a website address. Dark gray plaques (for sale) are multiplying faster than rabbits along other curved walls on the tiered bases of the Memorial. (Think brick and black wedding cake with a spiky-fenced Christian Cross instead of a bride-and-groom at the central summit.)

Who gave permission for this mammoth yellow, red and blue sign? Not us, said the local CA Coastal Commission office. City Development Services? Closes at 2 p.m.Thursdays so no answer there at 2:20 p.m. Department of Defense/U.S. Navy overseer of the Mt. Soledad Memorial in D.C.? Three hours later than San Diego at 3 p.m., so forget it.

Local Mt. Soledad Memorial Association receptionist in La Jolla didn't know who gave permission for the big sign, but she said it's been up since Memorial Day.

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