FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Jack Jacobs can proudly -- and truthfully -- say he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor in Vietnam. After a Supreme Court ruling last week, anyone is free under the First Amendment to make the same claim, whether it's true or not.

Some military veterans say they consider the ruling a slap in the face. Jacobs, though, says it was the right decision. He said he wore the uniform to protect people's rights, even if he doesn't agree with how they exercise them.

"There are lots of things people do that revolt me, but I'm happy that I fought for this country not to give them the right to do something stupid, but for the majority of the people to do the right thing," said Jacobs, 66, who earned the Medal of Honor in 1969 for carrying several of his buddies to safety from a shelled rice field despite shrapnel wounds in his head, the streaming blood clouding his vision.

"I'm a free speech guy," he said.

The high court voted 6-3 on Thursday to toss out the conviction of Xavier Alvarez, a former California politician who had lied about being a decorated military veteran. He had been charged under the 2006 Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other high military recognitions. The decision invalidated the law, as the justices ruled Alvarez's fabrications were constitutionally protected speech.

For Murel Winans, such lies can cause real harm and lead people to doubt the veracity of those who actually served during wartime. He doesn't buy the free speech argument.

"You feel like you never earned it, because when you tell someone what you've done, they'll say, 'you're lying just like those other guys,' " said Winans, 87. He said he was a "fresh young hillbilly from West Virginia" when he landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, on June 6, 1944 -- his 19th birthday.

The law was inspired by the 1998 book "Stolen Valor" by B.G. "Jug" Burkett, a Vietnam veteran. The government had argued that the law was needed to protect the integrity of military medals.

The ruling was issued the same day as the court's landmark decision upholding President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul. Many people in military communities were more focused on the ruling on the Stolen Valor Act.

Emotions ran high in Fayetteville, home to Fort Bragg. About 38 percent of North Carolina's population is in the service, a veteran or a dependent of one, according to the state Department of Administration.

"My boys are out there giving their heart and soul," said Rose Moore, whose son is in Afghanistan. "To have someone say they did it and they didn't do anything -- it's a lie, it's dishonest."

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