There was something about the Mojave Desert for the Lost Generation. Maybe it was the cool sand-crested wind, the emptiness, an unspoken communion with a greater peace. Those disillusioned soldiers of World War I, still shellshocked, went out there to find quiet — to forget, maybe, or to remember in silence only the stars overhead could provide. In 1934, perhaps because of these troubled men, the Veterans of Foreign Wars built a wooden cross and raised it on a quiet parcel of land there. It was both memorial to the soldiers lost and a reminder to those still living of the enormous cost of the war. The veterans gathered at the cross for barbecues and dances, to come together and share their burdens in the cross’s shadow. It stood there for 67 years, rebuilt with steel at one point, becoming a defining monument for veterans everywhere — separate, in a way, from the religious connotations inherent in the cross’s image. Henry and Wanda Sandoz looked after it, on a promise to the previous caretaker on his deathbed. The cross remained, stoic and silent, until 2001 when a church-and-state lawsuit threatened to take it down.