Jerry Kopel

In 53 years of marriage, I have never forgotten our wedding anniversary. How come? It's the same date as my birth date. And I don't need fireworks or newspaper car sale ads to tell me it is Fourth of July time. All I need to know is that Congress and the U.S. Senate are debating a constitutional amendment regarding the flag which states:
"The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
The U.S. Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote said "no" in 1989 to a criminal conviction for a flag burning in Texas. Congress then enacted a law to take effect October 28,1989 to restore federal criminal penalties for flag-burning. In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that law violated the U.S. Constitution.
Sixteen years ago, on or around July 7, 1989, a number of Colorado newspapers published a column which contained the following comments by a recognized conservative:
"All other civilizations around the world, despite their good points, are built on the opposite and dangerous teaching that something else is more sacred than the individual human being. It might be an abstraction, a theory, a symbol, a certain category of physical objects. It might be an infallible church, the all-powerful state, or even -- this is the tricky one -- the democratic will of the majority.
"This doctrine is dangerous because it seems to justify  depriving individuals of life, liberty and property in an ever-increasing web of central control. Regardless of good intentions or persuasive excuses, this doctrine is a slippery slope that sooner or later lands in just one destination: tyranny.
"The United States Supreme Court did all of us a favor in its courageous decision that flag-burning, while despicable, should not be criminal. No political  symbol is more sacred than individual freedom."
The author was John Andrews, former  Republican candidate for governor, former minority  state Senate leader, and former state Senate President.
Under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, a Colorado decision to amend the document can be ratified by the state legislature rather than all voting citizens. It would only take a majority vote, 18 to 17 in the Senate and 33 to 32 in the House to delete the flag from  the Bill of Rights first amendment protection.
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Any tourist coming to town will want to see the "mountain range" represented on the new commemorative Colorado quarter. Unfortunately, the mountain range is fiction.
Colorado had an opportunity to follow precedent established in 1860. Everyone knows about the Denver Mint, but following the Colorado gold strike in the late 1850's, the Colorado territory established in 1861 had its own gold dollars.
This included $10 and $20 gold pieces done in Denver, by Clark, Gruber and Co., a well-known private minting firm. Some machinery hauled east by ox-drawn wagons bound for coin making in California was dropped off in Denver.
On the front of the gold pieces were the words "Pikes Peak Gold" at the top and the sum at the bottom as Ten D., or Twenty D. The peak was named for Capt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike. It was never called Pike Peak, always Pikes Peak. Early on any apostrophe before "s" was dropped.
The artist rendered a portrait of Pikes Peak standing alone. At the base were shrubbery, trees, and land. Underneath the land was the word "Denver".
On the back of the coins on the side and top of the circle were the words "Clark, Gruber Co." At the bottom was the year "1860". The portrait was of an eagle, wings unfurled, its left leg holding arrows and its right leg holding olive branches. On the breast of the eagle was a shield with stripes that had to be the stripes of the U. S.  flag.
Why Pikes Peak? Because it represented the major gold bonanza at Gregory Gulch in the Pikes Peak area. Perhaps our legislators in Congress can find a way to put Pikes Peak from 1860 back on the quarter. After all, tourists DO know about Pikes Peak.
Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.

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Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel