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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. 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.

Comment on this Story

  • John R. Gibbons

    I served with Mike Gregorio in Vietnam 67-68 & he is so right, these people should be exposed for the fakes they are. Shame on the Supreme Court, it seems that lying is the new accepted practice now. We are creating a World of people that does not know the meaning of Character & Integrity & we will surely pay for that. It is up to us as individuals to stop this decay. Below are some interesting facts about this subject.

    Vietnam Facts

    As of August 1995 1,713,823 of those who served in Vietnam were still alive. During that same Census count the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country was: 9,492,958. As of the current census taken during August, 2000, the surviving U.S. Vietnam Veteran population estimate is: 1,002,511. This is hard to believe, losing nearly 711,000 between ’95 and ’00. That’s 390 per day. During this Census count, the number of Americans falsly claiming to have served in-country is: 13,853,027. By this census, four out of five who claim to be Vietnam veterans are not.



  • not sure

    so if I act like a cop I go to jail
    if I act like a doctor I go to jail
    at like a lawyer I go to jail
    But it’s ok to act like a war hero

  • Airborne SSG

    This is a complete and total outrage..it is a slap in the face of anyone who actually had the fortitude to join the military. Those awards and honors are exactly that…and the men and women who REALLY earn them…they don’t set out to earn them and they don’t use them for personal gain…a complete disgrace…

  • GuestB

    My experience has been those who actually hold medals and honors rarely speak about them. They are usually humble and private about their military service and awards. I can see why this is not protected by law, but it is very sad to me that more people seem less honorable than they once were in America.

  • Guest08

    (Pardon me) Throw out by the Highest court in the land.Go figure.

  • Mike Gregorio

    Please forgive my statement that Military uniforms and Awards mean nothing, they do. I am very dedicated to exposing “Fake Warriors” for the purpose of keeping military personal honor for serving their country.
    Semper Fi.

  • anne russell

    Mike, my career-military relatives agree with you, and I do understand why you and they feel as you do. I have had a similar feeling when my former husband’s childless current wife (#3; he’s moved on to #4; I was #2) laid claim to my little daughter I nurtured in my womb and nursed at my breast, wife #3 presenting herself publicly as the “mother” of my child. I sent her a note saying when you have gone thru 9 months of pregnancy and childbirth, and suffered morning sickness, and can display your war wounds–varicose veins and hemorrhoids and stretch marks and flabby belly and less-than-perky breasts and bags under your eyes from lost sleep….THEN you can claim to be the mother of your own child. Until then, mine is mine and you do not have one.

    Despite my empathy with you, fact is, protection of freedom of speech is the most important constitutional guarantee we have, and folks can, and do (witness the political campaigns), lie to enhance their images. These lies are actionable when they are used to commit bigamy (husbands frequently lie to “other women” and say they are not married, but only if they marry 2 wives at same time is this illegal), obtain $ via fraud, etc.. Otherwise, insecure and dishonest people may lie through their teeth, and the shame is on them, and we must learn to be discerning.

  • MikeMV

    Well said and couldn’t agree more – this is a total disgrace. Where is this country headed?

  • Wilmington Observer

    Whereas I agree that it is a, total, disgrace to claim to be something that you are not; I have to agree with the Supreme Court’s rulling. When we, as a nation, attempt to legislate morality we would, first, have to decide by whose definition of “moral” we would base our laws on.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Mike Gregorio

    Since when has lying in any fashion been “moral”, hope that you do not teach your family that lying is OK in the name of free speech.
    Try lying in court and see how free it is.
    Supreme Court Justices Alito, Scalia & Thomas dissented arguing that the law poses no threat to free speech, but rather punishes lies that are allowed to continue are “undermining our country’s system of military honor and inflicting real harm on actual medal recipients and their families”.
    Mine is a conservative view. Being moral is not a law, it’s part of a persons character.


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