SAN ANTONIO – The Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, calling it a free speech issue. Local military families call the decision an insult to true heroes.
Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act in 2005 and President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2006. It makes lying about earning military medals or honors a crime.
Fallen heroes are laid to rest as far as the eye can see at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
"Think about all these lives that have gone,” Dora Salinas says. “All these lives that have served the country."
She’s tended one of the graves once a week for the past seven years – first for her mother, then her father, a World War II veteran.
"He felt that everybody should serve their country,” Salinas says.
She heard about the Supreme Court case that centered around a man who claimed he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor when he really did not.
"I don't see how a person could say something like that and continue to go on living, saying they accomplished that when they really didn’t,” Salinas says.
The Supreme Court justices wrote in a majority opinion that stealing valor is a horrible lie, but the First Amendment “protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace.”
"It's a slap in the face to all who served honorably,” Charles Zambrano of VFW Post 76 says.
He says the Supreme Court decision shocked the post, the oldest in Texas, as well as other military members.
"That's a crime to me,” retired veteran Patrick McKinley says. “That's what I was taught in the military -- that I couldn't impersonate an officer and say I was a captain when I was nothing but a sergeant."
"I wouldn't go out and buy a silver star or a bronze star just because it looks cool and people would think something of me,” active duty veteran Jake Miller says.
Back at her parents’ graveside, Salinas says she’s not a legal expert.
"I think it's more moral than legal,” she describes the act of stealing valor.
But Salinas says true heroes who gave their lives would never lie about their service.