Remember the guy who wouldn’t take the flag down?
You might remember a news story several months ago about a crotchety old man who defied his homeowners association and refused to take down the flagpole on his property and the large flag that flew on it.
Now you can find out who, exactly, that old man was.
On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg — probably didn’t
make much news back then.
Twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944, near Carano, Italy, Van T. Barfoot,
who had enlisted in the US Army in 1940, set out to flank German machine gun
positions from which fire was coming down on his fellow soldiers. He advanced
through a minefield, took out three enemy machine gun positions and returned
with 17 prisoners of war.
If that wasn’t enough for a day’s work, he later took on and destroyed three
German tanks sent to retake the machine gun positions.
That probably didn’t make much news either, given the scope of the war, but it
did earn Van T. Barfoot, who retired as a colonel after also serving in Korea and
Vietnam, a Congressional Medal of Honor.
What did make news was a neighborhood association’s quibble with
how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban
Virginia home. Seems the rules said a flag could be flown on a house-mounted
bracket, but, for decorum, items such as Barfoot’s 21-foot flagpole were
He had been denied a permit for the pole, erected it anyway and was facing court
action if he didn’t take it down. Since the story made national TV, the
neighborhood association has rethought its position and agreed to indulge this
old hero who dwells among them.
“In the time I have left I plan to continue to fly the American flag without
interference,” Barfoot told The Associated Press.
As well he should.
And if any of his neighbors still takes a notion to contest him, they might want to
read his Medal of Honor citation. It indicates he’s not real good at backing down.
Van T. Barfoot’s Medal of Honor citation:
This 1944 Medal of Honor citation, listed with the National Medal of Honor
Society, is for Second Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry:
WE ONLY LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE…
BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE! AND, BECAUSE OF OLD MEN LIKE VAN BARFOOT.