War hero's flagpole at odds with neighbors

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – When Col. Van T. Barfoot raises the American flag, it's a special moment, in a life that's full of them.

"Just, one of the most beautiful things we've got on our side. It really is," said Col. Barfoot.

In 1944, as a 25-year-old, he received the military's highest award: the Medal of Honor, for an act of heroism in World War Two. That makes him now, at age 90, a living legend.

To put that in perspective, when Col. Barfoot attends a Veterans Day service, he's the only one to receive a standing ovation. So when he was told that flying his American flag this way could lead to a fine of up to $10 a day, it was all so confusing.

"To tell me that I can't fly that now, after 90 years is a little bit, more than I can really just sit back and take it," he said.

Colonel Barfoot and the homeowner's board where he lives are at odds. The by-laws don't permit flagpoles...most neighbors just attach flags to the front of their houses. But the colonel doesn't believe in flying the flag any other way. His daughter wrote the board, hoping for a one-time exception.

"I presented the one and only exception that I thought would never ever happen again, and that was having a Medal of Honor recipient living in this community," said Margaret Nichols, Col. Barfoot's daughter.

The request was politely denied. The colonel raised his flag anyway.

"That's my dad. Ha-ha. He's never run from a fight in the past and he's not gonna run from this one," said Margaret.

He says it will "stay" that way, for as long as he lives in the house.

"I feel that I've earned the right to have it fly...regardless of what they say," said Col. Barfoot.

The board has thanked Col. Barfoot for his bravery and service to the country, but maintains that the flagpole is against a longstanding neighborhood policy. If the fines actually do come down, several other people have offered to pay them.

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