Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why the Greatest Generation is Great

Meet retired Colonel Van T. Barfoot, U.S. Army, Medal of Honor winner, hero in WWII, hero today.

The best way to know about this man is to read the following quote from his Medal of Honor citation:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, near Carano, Italy. With his platoon heavily engaged during an assault against forces well entrenched on commanding ground, 2d Lt. Barfoot (then Tech. Sgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positions in the immediate area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to 17. Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored counterattack directly at his platoon positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front of 3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75 yards his first shot destroyed the track of the leading tank, effectively disabling it, while the other 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. He continued onward into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts, assisted 2 of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position of safety. Sgt. Barfoot's extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.[5]"

Now, get this.

Mr. Barfoot, now ninety years old and one of a only a handful of surviving Medal of Honor recipients, has retired to a sleepy little community in Henrico County, Virginia, and the Homeowners' Association in his sleepy little community has told him he must remove the American flag from his front lawn. Just like that.  They don't think it conforms to the vision they have for their community.  I'm sure that Mr. Barfoot would never have moved into his home if he thought he could not fly his flag, and, indeed, there is no specific stipulation in the covenant agreement disallowing flagpoles.  But, to be sure (I heard in a radio interview last night), the retired Army officer inquired about it specifically before he signed the covenant agreement, and he was told that his flag would be permissible. It seems, however, that the HOA changed its mind.  Who knows why.  Perhaps someone complained about the flag.  Maybe it wakes them up in the morning when the colonel rises, bright and early, to hoist his flag -- our flag-- up the flagpole.  Maybe someone in the neighborhood is getting tired of seeing him lower it every night at sunset, and respectfully fold it, three-corner-style, as any country-loving military war hero might do.  Perhaps some people just don't like seeing the stars and stripes. Or it just may be that some HOAs are just power hungry and a little too big for their britches.  There's no telling.   Mr. Barfoot appealed the HOA's decision, of course, but the board of directors voted again to disallow the fixture on "aesthetic grounds."

As if the American flag were ever anything but beautiful anywhere it waves.

Have no fear, though, the Barfoot family has only just begun to fight.  The media is broadcasting the news now and real Americans are rushing to his side to support him.  I'm thinking this is one Home Owners' Association that might have to eat crow.  Col. Van T. Barfoot is not a man to mess with. 

Read the story here at the Richmond Times Dispatch.  Watch the video here.


Sara said...

I used to live in Henrico Cty. where people flew all manner of decorative flags. In my hood here in GA, we're not allowed to fly flags except the American flag on certain holidays. Not every day of the year. What's up with that? I honestly don't see how they can regulate flying the US flag like that.

Linda Higgins said...

OH MY GOODNESS! that absolutely brought tears to my eyes. I had to take a deep breath when I read this. Being a part of an HOA and knowing how sticky they can be I would fight and fight for that right to fly the flag and let the media know it too! HOORAY for Col. Van T. Barfoot! I would love to shake his hand! (goose bumps forming !) Thank you so much for this beautiful post today! Anyone reading this post and NOT getting choked up about it....I feel very sorry for them! HUGE SMILES ACROSS THE MILES CUDOO'S TO YOU LISA!

MightyMom said...

humph, I'd like to see someone try and stop me from flying my American Flag every day. Bet he feels the same.

course I refuse to live anywhere that has an HOA cuz I won't have no one telling me what to do with my own property, so that's just me.

John Ritchie said...

A group of students has just launched a PETITION to support Col. Van Barfoot and his right to fly the American flag with pride and respect.

Please join & spread the word.