“There’s never been a day in my life or a place I’ve lived in my life that you couldn’t fly the American flag,” said Col. Van T. Barfoot. However, if his homeowner’s association (HOA) gets its way, that day may be quite near.
Col. Barfoot is 90 years old, and, it seems, should have earned the right to be an outspoken patriot. According to Fox News: “Barfoot is one of the country’s last living World War II veterans who received the Medal of Honor. He also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and earned a Purple Heart. In WWII, Barfoot showed his mettle in Carano, Italy, where he single-handedly destroyed a set of German machine gun nests, killed eight enemy soldiers, took 17 prisoners and stared down a tank before destroying it and killing its crew — all in a single day. Exhausted by his herculean efforts, he still managed to move two of his wounded men 1,700 yards to 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,’ reads the official citation for his Medal of Honor.”
It seems, however, that valor and patriotism aren’t worth as much as “aesthetics”. Despite the fact that Col. Barfoot owns his home and HOA bylaws do not stipulate that he can’t have a flagpole, the HOA is threatening legal action if he does not remove it by Friday, Dec. 11.
I’m going to sound judgmental about this particular HOA, and perhaps I am. But more than this one instance in a Virginia suburb is the growing disrespect for our military men and women and the rights that they have so bravely fought for. We seem to have forgotten that without individuals like Col. Barfoot, we may not have the option of making a patriotic gesture such as the one he is fighting for, or of quibbling over our freedoms.
I use the word “quibbling” purposefully. I know to many this seems like a foolish topic, and you’re wondering why I’m making such a big deal out of it. We’re urged to be non-judgmental, tolerant and understanding of other points of view, which is all well and good. But when a military hero wishes to use his private property and personal expression to show allegiance to this country in a respectful way, we need to look past specific aesthetics and show gratitude for all he has given and those whom he represents. There’s much more at stake here than one man’s daily ritual, just as the American flag represents much more than patriotism.
Being in the military is a life-long calling. Our servicemen and women can’t walk away when the going gets tough, and they don’t ask us to do anything in return for their service. But it seems that the least we can do is give proof that we stand behind them, and that we still believe in the American principles they have sworn to protect.