Flag replacement plans cause controversy
FRISCO – What was once a memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks has now become somewhat of a battleground.
When Kurt Kizer first organized a hike up Peak 1 to place an American flag at its summit in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was to help locals work through their emotions and to honor the victims.
The group hiked to replace the flag Sept. 11, 2002, and again this year.
So when someone destroyed the new flag just a day or two after the commemorative hike last Thursday, Kizer wasn’t sure what to do.
On Wednesday – the same day Kizer and friends decided they did, indeed, want to replace the burned flag – local political activist Doug Malkan was talking with Forest Service officials about placing a peace flag on Peak 1 on behalf of the Summit County Peace and Justice Coalition.
“It’s a memorial to Sept. 11, the victims in this country and around the world,” Malkan said. “It’s also our statement that this country has been heading in the wrong direction, and we need a different foreign policy in this country – one that’s centered on trying to make peace in the world.”
The news angered Kizer, who feels Malkan’s efforts are taking away from the original intent of the Peak 1 flag, which is to memorialize the victims of Sept. 11.
“I’m totally into peace,” Kizer said. “(But) he’s taking a peace flag and making it a political agenda.”
Kizer said he was ready to throw in the towel when he heard of Malkan’s plans, but then read Thursday’s letters to the editors, including a letter from Silverthorne resident Kim Jardim in the Summit Daily.
Jardim’s brother-in-law, Mark Steven Jardim, was killed in the terrorist attacks, and the flag on Peak 1 was a source of comfort for her and her husband. They were filled with “anger, fear and sadness” the day they heard the flag was burned.
Jardim and others said they hope Kizer replaces the flag.
Learning of Jardim’s personal loss brought back many of the initial feelings Kizer experienced in 2001, he said.
“It’s tragic,” he said. “That’s how I felt that day, and that’s what it’s about.”
“I ask that Mr. Malkan and the Summit County Peace and Justice Coalition show some respect for the victims of 9-11 by finding another peak for their flag,” Jardim said Thursday. “They show a great amount of disrespect for the innocent victims of 9-11 by proposing their own flag representing their own political views. That is not what this is all about.
“My brother-in-law, Mark, was never recovered from Ground Zero. We don’t have him. We just have Ground Zero and Peak 1.”
When asked if his flag would be more of a memorial or a political statement, Malkan said, “We feel our flag is a memorial to 9-11. There’s no one group that has exclusive rights to put a flag on Peak 1. If one group is allowed to put a flag on Peak 1, then our group should be allowed the same rights.”
According to Paul Semmer, acting district ranger for the Dillon Ranger District, Forest Service officials haven’t decided to allow either group to organize a hike to replace – or put a new flag – on the mountain’s summit.
A permanent structure or memorial on public lands violates Forest Service regulations, Semmer said.
The Peak 1 memorial was a unique situation – both because it commemorated those lost in the national tragedy and because the land atop Peak 1 was privately owned until this year.
“Not to say that was all right,” he said. “We’re not authorizing it nor are we taking it down.”
Meanwhile, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the burning. A detective retrieved the anti-war notes left in the summit register atop Peak 1. The notes are now evidence in the case.
The department also has collected letters – allegedly sent from the person(s) responsible for destroying the flag – to Kizer and fellow hiker Tim Putz.
Officials would not comment on the contents of the letters, but said they were not threatening in nature.
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