With liberty and justice for all
FRISCO – The flag burning on Peak 1 has touched a nerve with community members.
Throughout the weekend, at least a half-dozen parties hiked up Peak 1 to replace the American flag, which someone had burned the weekend prior.
Kurt Kizer and a group of other Summit County residents originally had placed an oversized American flag on the peak Sept. 16, 2001, as a memorial to those who died in the terrorist attacks. They have made the trek on Sept. 11 for the past two years to replace the flag.
When Dillon resident Jacques Voorhees read about the flag burning in the Summit Daily News, he wanted to replace the flag immediately. He hadn’t read about Kizer’s plan to replace the flag with one offered by Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, that flew over the U.S. Capitol building.
“I assumed there would be some official replacement of the flag, but I just felt like, “Why wait? Let’s get some flags up there,'” Voorhees said. “It wasn’t to take anything away from the official effort. It was more of an outpouring of sentiment in support of the official effort.”
Voorhees and his daughter Kristen, a senior at Summit High School, reached the summit at 10 a.m. Saturday. But two parties already had attached flags to the pole.
“As soon as we got above tree line, we could see the two flags,” Kristen said. “It was more than saying, “Oh, someone already beat us.’ It was “Wow, people really care.’ We could see the flags the whole way up. It was a real community feeling that we’re not the only ones who care about this.”
As Kristen and her dad descended, they confirmed they weren’t the only ones who cared about the flag. They met a half-dozen parties ascending the mountain with flags in their backpacks. They initially discovered the hikers’ intentions when someone asked them if there was a flag up there yet. Then, the Voorhees’ began asking hikers if they were carrying flags to place on the peak.
“If you live in this area, Peak 1 is arguably the closest we have to a Mecca,” he said. “That steady line of flag bearers ascending Peak 1 made it clear how we have strongly held beliefs as well. It was a community statement that we don’t have to sit still for the likes of people who destroy a small monument in recognition of those who died. This wasn’t just a flag. This was a memorial. (Burning it) wasn’t free speech. It was a desecration of a community exhibit.”
And, the community rallied to right the wrong.
“It was more than just climbing a mountain,” Kristen Voorhees said. “It was really representative of something that we believed in and something our community believed in.”
Despite the outpouring of flags, Kizer still plans to rebuild the pole and erect a flag from McInnis next week. He will confirm the exact date when he receives the flag.
His only concern with people placing flags on the peak is the issue of permits. Forest Service officials initially said they would not permit anyone to replace the flag this year but reversed the decision after locals objected. They said they would review the issue again annually, but they gave Kizer the go-ahead to replace the burnt flag.
“People just need to use caution,” Kizer said. “They can’t just put a memorial up wherever they want to. It doesn’t upset me at all, but if everyone puts a flag up there, we’re kind of misleading the Forest Service, which is giving us permission.
“Just have a little bit of patience, and we’ll get the flag up there,” he added.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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