Who is Van T. Barfoot?
The name Van T. Barfoot may not sound familiar to you, but his story is a good one that needs to be told.
Van Thurman Barfoot was born in June of 1919 and that didn’t really cause much of a stir outside of his family and native Mississippi. Fast forward to 1944 near Caranno, Italy. A 25 year old Van Barfoot, now a Technical Sergeant was fighting World War II in the U.S. Army. He had set out on his assigned mission to flank German machine gun positions that were firing on his fellow soldiers. It was then that he took off through a mine field and wiped out three of those enemy machine gun positions and came back with several prisoners of war. That didn't make headlines, either.
Later, Van took on three German tanks that were sent to his location in order to reclaim those positions. Van proceeded to destroy those tanks, but by then the Italian Campaign had gone on for so long and the war was so big, that no one seemed to notice what he did there, either, but it did snag him a Congressional Medal of Honor. You’d think young Van would hang it up after that, but no. He went on to fight in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. When he retired as a highly decorated Colonel in the U.S. Army in addition to his Congressional Medal of Honor, Van was also awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. You’d think that one of the news organizations would have done a fluffy blurb about him at the end of a nightly news cast, but there were no cameras.
What did make the news was Van’s fight against his homeowner’s association for the right to fly the flag. Apparently the rules stated that a flag could fly from a house mounted bracket and his planned 21 foot flag pole topped with the stars and stripes was deemed unsightly and non-conforming. He was denied a permit for his flag pole, but went ahead and built it anyway. Van didn’t care that he was facing court action if he didn’t take it down. That was the story that brought the news crews out.
After it ran on television stations across the state and the country, the association regrouped to change their position about not allowing the now 90 year old veteran to fly the flag. You see, Van had support from not only local veterans in his community and state, but also from across the country as well as political leaders and civilians alike.
In an interview, Van told the press that, “In the time I have left I plan to continue to fly the American flag without interference.” If any of his neighbors still wanted to contest his position on flying his flag, maybe they should read the citation on his Medal of Honor. In case they weren’t aware, Van isn’t too adept at backing down. Sadly, Van passed away in March of 2012 at the age of 92 after suffering a fall at his home in Virginia.
So, in summation; as you run Old Glory up the flag pole, or fly it from your house mounted bracket, please remember to keep Van and all of our men and women in uniform in your thoughts and prayers as we celebrate the birth of our country and let us not forget that we live in the land of the free because of the brave.