Thursday, December 03, 2009

MoH Recipient Has Flagpole Issues

By Zinie Chen Sampson The Associated Press
A 90-year-old Army veteran who won the Medal of Honor during World War II is battling his neighborhood association for what he says is his right to fly the American flag from a pole in his front yard.
Col. Van T. Barfoot says he erected the 21-foot flagpole in September, raising the flag daily at sunrise and retiring it at sunset.
The Sussex Square homeowners’ association told him recently that the free-standing pole violates the townhouse neighborhood’s aesthetic guidelines and ordered him to remove it by 5 p.m. Friday or face a lawsuit.
“I don’t have any qualms with their authority, but the thing about it is that I cannot get enough conversation out of them where we can try to work out a solution,” Barfoot said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
The homeowners’ association said they denied a previous request by Barfoot to erect the flagpole but that he put it up anyway, according to a statement issued by its lawyer Sandy Bowen. The statement says Barfoot can display an American flag, as long as it’s in a way that conforms with association rules.
“This is not about the American flag. This is about a flagpole,” the statement reads. Barfoot, who moved into his townhouse in June, won his medal for actions near Carano, Italy, in 1944 and is one of about 90 surviving Medal of Honor winners. He also won the Purple Heart and other decorations, and served in Korea and Vietnam before retiring from the service in 1974.
“I’ve flown the flag at my home as long as I can remember,” said Barfoot, who lived in rural Amelia County before moving to suburban Richmond. “This is the first time in the last 36 years that I’ve been unable to put my flag up on the same pole, the same staff and take it down when it’s time to come down.”
Neighbors largely have expressed their support, but he realizes that ultimately it’s up to the nine-member association board whether they will grant an exception to the rules.
“Emotional torture is what they’ve done to my father,” said his daughter, Margaret Nicholls. “He has lost sleep; he worries about it constantly. He just doesn’t understand. He thinks that if it’s on his property they can’t tell him what to do.”

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