Saturday, May 8, 2010

Van T. Barfoot's Next Battle

The following is from a letter sent to me by a friend:

Head east from Carthage
on Mississippi 16 toward Philadelphia .
After a few miles a sign says you're in
Edinburg . It s a good thing the sign's there, because there's no other way to tell.

On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg -- probably didn't make much news back then.

Twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944, near Carano , Italy ,
Van T. Barfoot, who had enlisted in the Army in 1940, set out
to flank German machine gun positions from which fire was
coming down on his fellow soldiers. He advanced through a
minefield, took out three enemy machine gun positions and
returned with 17 prisoners of war.

If that wasn't enough for a day's work, he later took on and
destroyed three German tanks sent to retake the machine
gun positions.

That probably didn't make much news either, given the scope
of the war, but it did earn Van T. Barfoot, who retired as a
colonel after also serving in Korea and Vietnam , a Congressional
Medal of Honor.

What did make news last December 2009 was a neighborhood
association's quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose
to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home.
Seems the rules said a flag could be flown on a house-mounted
bracket, but, for decorum, items such as Barfoot's 21-foot flagpole
were unsuitable.

He had been denied a permit for the pole, erected it anyway and
was facing court action if he didn't take it down. Since the story
made national TV, the neighborhood association has rethought its
position and agreed to indulge this old hero who dwells among them.

"In the time I have left I plan to continue to fly the American flag
without interference," Barfoot told The Associated Press.

As well he should.

And if any of his neighbors still takes a notion to contest him, they
might want to read his Medal of Honor citation. It indicates he's not
real good at backing down.

Van T. Barfoot's Medal of Honor citation:

This 1944 Medal of Honor citation, listed with the National Medal of
Honor Society, is for Second Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above
and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, near Carano , Italy .
With his platoon heavily engaged during an assault against forces
well entrenched on commanding ground, 2d Lt. Barfoot moved off
alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1
machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade,
killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German
defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his
tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another
enemy machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave
themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support
squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positions in the immediate
area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to 17.
Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated
the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce
armored counterattack directly at his platoon positions. Securing a
bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front of
3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75 yards his first shot
destroyed the track of the leading tank, effectively disabling it, while
the other 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the
disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his
tommygun. He continued onward into enemy terrain and destroyed
a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge
placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position,
Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts,
assisted 2 of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position

of safety. Sgt. Barfoot's extraordinary heroism, demonstration of
magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of point
blank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers."

There is a reason why these folks were called "The Greatest
Generation". It is adamned shame they raised the greediest,
most-self-serving, narcisistic generation named "The Baby Boomers".


Dave Splash said...

I can sympathize with ridiculous covenants in my neighborhood (not city or county ones in my case). My neighborhood association prohibits all political signs to be displayed in yards. Obviously, it's an issue every two years. I violate the covenant every time, and they threaten to sue (after removing the sign themselves a few times, which if I owned a gun would have gotten them shot!).

I tried everything to force a change. I even called the ACLU since I viewed this as a First Amendment issue. How does the Constitution not trump some stupid neighborhood association? They wouldn't take the case. Thanks for nothing.

I will post my signs come this Fall, and the cycle will start all over again.

T. Paine said...

Dave, depite the fact that I am sure I would not be a fan of the people your signs are supporting (lol), I absolutely agree with you on this. Your first amendment right should absolutely trump any neighborhood association rules.

I am surprised the ACLU wouldn't take your case. This, to me, seems like the very thing they SHOULD be doing in protecting free speech.

I would do exactly as you did with my own signs. If they kept getting removed, I'd replace them and add new ones inside my home's front windows to boot!

Keep fighting that fight, sir.

lisa said...

Since when is a flag a political sign?

T. Paine said...

I would think that it would still fall under the freedom of expression aspects of the law, just like those boys wearing American flags on their T-shirts in California on Cinco de Mayo and being sent home for it.

One has to wonder why the ACLU didn't make a statement on that one either. I guess the school district saw all sorts of problems coming and admitted the vice principal responsible for that action was wrong.

Anonymous said...

I live in an HOA environment, and when it comes to big matters, they don't have the money to sue. They create rules, and may make threats but unless the neighborhood is willing to cough up the money, where are they going to get their money? I am against HOA's because I have often experienced that the very members often break rules that affect my area much more than the a flagpole or a political sign. They have no right to infringe upon our freedom of expression. They have no political power what so ever. So the persons who run this HOA have some connections, or they must like to make threats they can't keep. Sounds like a pretty fascist neighborhood. Perhaps the ALCU wouldn't take the case because they know that HOA's have no power or money to pay when it's all said and done. Good luck and keep on putting up your signs and flags.
I just find it so selfish and inhuman that people care more about what someone else's lawn looks like and the value of their house more the human issues of respect and reverence for those who deserve it.