90-year old World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Van T. Barfoot is receiving national media attention as the Sussex Square Homeowners’ Association demanded earlier this week that he remove from his front yard a free-standing flagpole. Barfoot received a letter this past Tuesday from the Coates & Davenport law firm in Richmond […]
90-year old World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Van T. Barfoot is receiving national media attention as the Sussex Square Homeowners’ Association demanded earlier this week that he remove from his front yard a free-standing flagpole.
Barfoot received a letter this past Tuesday from the Coates & Davenport law firm in Richmond ordering that the flagpole, on which he proudly displays the American flag, be removed by 5:00 p.m. Friday, December 4. Barfoot had originally petitioned his neighborhood’s homeowners association for the permission to erect the flagpole in July, but the request was denied because the association claimed it breached its covenants. According to neighbors and friends of Barfoot, the pole appeared in his front yard off and on since July and has remained in his front yard since Veteran’s Day. An emergency association session held Thursday due to media pressure resulted in an extension of Barfoot’s deadline to remove the pole to next Friday, December 11.
Barfoot raises the flag on his Henrico property every morning and lowers the flag every evening at dusk, meticulously folding it in the military three-corner style. A veteran who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, he believes that not hanging the flag in his front yard would be irreverent.
Since the dispute’s beginning, Barfoot has received a wealth of support local Richmond residents, as well as from across the country after receiving coverage from Fox News, the New York Times, and from the creation of a Facebook Fan page that supports Barfoot’s decision to hold on to his flagpole. The page currently has over 4,000 fans and augments by the minute.
Facebook user Jan-Marie Johnson Bagent of the Richmond area expressed her support for Barfoot on the Fan page: “I believe your service to this country should allow you to fly your flag wherever and whenever you please! It is a sad time we live in when the American flag is considered a nuisance. I value your service to this country and greatly appreciate the sacrifices that you have made. Thank you Col[.] Barfoot!!!”
Senator Mark Warner has also openly shown his support for the Colonel’s decision to keep his flagpole. On his Twitter page on Wednesday, Warner wrote, “Col Barfoot’s a true hero & has my full support – decision just plain wrong & our office will try to help resolve [the] situation[.]”
Barfoot has also accepted support in the form of free legal representation from the Richmond law firm of Marchant, Honey & Baldwin.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, the homeowners association states that this dispute is not a matter of freedom of speech. “This is not about the American flag. This is about the flagpole.” The association affirms that Barfoot has the right to hang the flag from a smaller, angled flagpole mounted to his home, just as many of his fellow neighbors have done. The exact reasoning for the association’s covenant against free-standing flagpoles is not known, but it is speculated that worry stems from the possibility that a pole in a resident’s front yard could depreciate property value.
In an article published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Wednesday, Barfoot explains why he objects to hanging the flag from the angled pole. “Where I’ve been, fighting wars, displaying the flag, military installations, parades, everything else, the flag is vertical. And I’ve done it that way since I was in the Army.”
Residents of the Sussex Square community are torn as to whether Barfoot should be allowed to keep the flagpole in his yard or be forced to remove it. Some residents believe his service in the country’s military warrant him the right to a free-standing flagpole for the American flag, while others believe he should abide by the rules of the homeowners association as they do.
A friend of the Barfoot family describes Barfoot as so humble that he is equally upset over violating the homeowners association’s covenants as he would be saddened if he did not hang his flag on the flagpole. Over the next week as the deadline for removing Barfoot’s flagpole nears, residents of Henrico Country, the surrounding Richmond area, and the rest of the country will be watching to see if the flagpole stands tall or disappears from view.
Interact: What are your opinions of Col. Barfoot’s case? Should he be forced to remove his flag pole by his Homeowners’ Association or granted an exception and be allowed to keep his flag flying? Sound off in the comments below.