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Wilmington veteran disappointed, not surprised Stolen Valor Act struck down

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — While most of the attention in Washington today was about the Supreme Cour ruling on health care reform, another high court ruling today says falsely claiming to have a military honor medal is not a crime. The high court’s ruling strikes down the Stolen Valor Act.

Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act in 2006 to protect the reputation and meaning of military honors. The Supreme Court, though, said the First Amendment defends a person’s right to lie, even if they are lying about awards won through military service.

Freedom of speech is something the military fights for and protects, but one Wilmington Vietnam veteran wonders if the government is now crossing the line in protecting our freedom.

“All the men and women that served in the military put their lives on the line, and now their awards, their uniforms mean nothing,” Michael Gregorio said.

Gregorio joined the Marine Corps at 19, served 13 months in Vietnam and is now a member of a disabled veterans organization. He says the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling striking down the Stolen Valor Act is disappointing but not surprising.

He wonders if the government is overstepping its grounds.

“You think about all the military people buried around the world. Are we protecting freedom too much right now?” he asked.

Gregorio was the commander of American Legion Post 10 in Wilmington. He left because the Legion did not make members prove they were veterans.

“They enable people to become imposters of veterans,” he said.

He says it is just another way of belittling the real veterans in our country.

“The people that have won the Medal of Honor, my goodness… how disgraceful to wear that medal that didn’t earn it. It’s heart breaking,” Gregorio said.

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