(WTNH)–Micah Welintukonis is a retired U.S Army Sergeant and a Purple Heart recipient.
“I’ve served in Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and the last one was Afghanistan,” said Welintukonis.
Welintukonis lives in Coventry and first became aware of the flag controversy at Hampshire College through members of the Amherst branch of the VFW. The controversy started when students lowered the flag to half-staff following this year’s presidential election. One day later it was burned and school officials ultimately decided not to have the flag on campus.
“What are we teaching our youth? We can’t just pick and choose which laws to follow. That’s not the wasy society is supposed to work,” said Welintukonis.
Last weekend Welintukonis was the key speaker at a peaceful protest in front of the Hampshire College campus. More than 400 veterans came to show their disappointment in the school’s decision.
“it reminded me of that sense of patriotism we had right after 9-11 where everybody was just united and it was extraordinary,” said Welintukonis.
This Sunday veterans will come together again for another peaceful protest. This time Welintukonis expects more than 1000 people to join in, both veterans and veteran supporters.
“These men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country, for our freedoms, they’re taken advantage. I know this is very important to them and I feel it’s part of my obligation as an American, as a citizen, to stand behind them,” said Jack Jurovati, a friend of Welintukonis.
Welintukonis doesn’t disagree with the students’ right to protest but says breaking laws and disrespecting those who fought to protect the symbol of freedom should not be tolerated.
“I think it’s truly disappointing that especially with our youth that they have further distanced themselves from patriotism,” said Welintukonis.