Some local veterans think the Constitution needs to be amended to ban flag burning, and it likely will be. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a proposed amendment Wednesday that prohibits "the physical desecration of the United States flag."
The amendment must pass the Senate with a two-thirds majority and be approved by three-fourths of the states to become an amendment to the Constitution.
Veteran's of Foreign Wars Post 4265 member Jim Meineke said he absolutely supports a ban on flag burning.
"You can't go out and kill all the eagles, why should you be able to burn the flag?" Meineke said Friday.
"There are other ways to demonstrate," the former Marine said.
Officials from the national offices of the VFW and the American Legion have said they support the amendment.
Charley Watkins, district commander for the Northwest Colorado Department of the VFW, said he too supports a ban on flag burning.
"I don't think that we ought to allow people to burn it indiscriminately," Watkins said. "If they're not happy here, they can somewhere where they are happy."
Watkins, who spent more than 20 years in the military, said he is very touchy when it comes to the flag.
"It's very disheartening to me that people can not pay their due respects," he said. "If you want to live under that flag, you ought to be able to honor it."
Watkins said he was very upset in 1989 when the Supreme Court overturned bans on flag burning.
"I was upset from the standpoint that our government leaders think it's okay to do that," he said.
Bill Harding, who is a member of the VFW and American Legion in Craig, said he supports a ban because burning the flag denigrates the memory of veterans.
"It dishonors the memory of the guys that died to keep that flag flying," Harding said.
The Supreme Court's 1989 decision said burning the flag was protected by the first amendment.
At least one Craig veteran agrees with the Supreme Court.
"I don't like (flag burning)," Bill Ronis said. "But I don't think we should have a ban on it."
Ronis served in the Coast Guard for 20 years as a helicopter pilot.
He said the freedom to protest is one of the things soldiers fight for.
"A person should have that right," he said. "Not that I condone it, but it's a principle."
Since the Supreme Court's ruling, the House has passed a flag burning amendment four times. The amendment failed to get a two-thirds majority in the Senate each time.
Most of Colorado's congressional delegation supports a ban on flag burning.
Rep. John Salazar, D-Man--assa, voted for the amendment Wednesday.
Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, were the only Colorado representatives to vote against the amendment.
In a statement, Salazar said groups such as the VFW and American Legion are correct in opposing flag burning.
"I stand with the American Legion and several other veteran's groups in saying desecration of the flag is absolutely offensive," the statement said.
Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Denver, and Wayne Allard, R-Loveland, support a Senate version of the amendment.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org