Forest Service OKs placement of new American flag on Peak 1
FRISCO – A flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol will soon fly atop Peak 1.
U.S. Forest Service officials Thursday granted Kurt Kizer permission to re-erect the American flag, and Rep. Scott McInnis has offered to replace the one someone burned last weekend.
Kizer and a throng of others put an oversized American flag atop the Frisco-area peak on Sept. 16, 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City five days earlier. He and others have made the trek the past two years to replace the flag, which after a winter of being exposed to high winds and extreme weather, had become torn and battered.
They fly the flag as a monument to those who died – civilians, police officers and firefighters – in those terrorist acts.
Kizer knows his patriotism is not shared by everyone. That was exemplified last weekend when someone torched and slashed the flag. Hikers discovered the remnants of the flag and two political statements criticizing the war effort in Iraq at the site and reported it Sunday.
Sheriff’s deputies who are still investigating the case, said public information officer Jill Berman. Det. Juan Berber hiked to the summit and retrieved remnants of the flag and the two notes – nothing more than charred polyester and some paper, Berman said.
Kizer said his gut feeling is that the perpetrator was from the Front Range but thinks it’s surprising that no one noticed anything suspicious last weekend.
“I feel like they’d have to be an idiot to be from around here,” he said. “Everybody knows somebody who knows someone else.”
Kizer said he will make plans for the hike after the flag arrives from Washington, D.C. He hopes whoever burned the last flag – valued at $300 and donated by Everist Materials of Silverthorne – is no longer so angry and understands the reasons the group brought the flag to Peak 1. When Kizer first heard the news, he said he wasn’t sure if he would plan another hike and plant another flag.
But numerous letters of support in the Summit Daily News helped convince him to try again.
“They might as well have kicked my grandmother’s tombstone over,” he said of the flag burning. “There were people in New York who were pulling dead bodies out of buildings; they feel like they’re losing something.”
Kizer and his fellow hikers might have company on the summit of the craggy, 12,805-foot mountain.
Political activist Doug Malkan said Friday he plans to bring a peace flag to the summit of the same mountain.
“There can be more than one group of people who have a voice up there,” he said. “We’ll be part of that monument.”
He hopes to have his peace flag – a much smaller flag than the American flag – delivered next week. Like Kizer, he hasn’t decided when he and his friends will hike the peak.
The peace flag will be erected in protest of the nation’s military reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and of what Malkan sees as an erosion of American’s civil rights to free speech.
“The flag has become a symbol of free speech,” Malkan said. “We had to fight for that right.”
Malkan believes people should have the right to burn the American flag under the First Amendment. He and a group of telemarking friends participated in last spring’s Bump Buffet under the team name “Osama Pin Laden,” during which Malkan made motions to burn a small flag. A fellow team member tackled him in what Malkan called a prepared skit.
“Personally, I’d burn my own flag, but I wouldn’t burn someone else’s flag,” he said. “We’re not trying to destroy anyone else’s flag. What we’re doing is very positive.”
Kizer see’s Malkan’s actions as a political statement.
“It’s exactly what we’re trying not to do,” he said. “But we don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes. We are hiking Peak 1. I just want to do it for the right reason, as a memorial. We’re going to go for it.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or
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