Van T. Barfoot: A True American Hero and Patriot

Van Thurman Barfoot

Van T. Barfoot did so much for our country, and yet the thing that brought him to our attention, and the attention of the world, was a disagreement with his homeowner’s association.

Retired army Colonel Van Thurman Barfoot was born on June 15, 1919 in Edinburg Mississippi, one of nine children who grew up on a farm. He died on March 2, 2012, at age 92 after suffering head injuries resulting from a fall in front of his home that resulted in a coma from which he never recovered. Colonel Barfoot lived in what is called “Sussex Square” a community of townhouses where the grounds are community property, in Henrico Virginia, a suburb of Richmond.

The New York Times reports that Colonel Barfoot moved from his farm in Amelia County Virginia in 2009 (age 89) in order to be nearer to his daughter, Margaret Nicholls, who already lived in Henrico.

Van T. Barfoot raising his flag at 6 AM as he did every morning.
Van T. Barfoot raising his flag at 6 AM as he did every morning.

The Flag Dispute

Once settled into his new home just a few houses down from his daughter’s, Colonel Barfoot decided he wanted to fly the American flag as he had always done, and he had a regulation 21-foot flagpole installed in front of his townhouse. He received notice shortly after that installation that his flagpole was against the homeowner’s association rules and he would have to remove it or face a lawsuit.

Colonel Barfoot challenged the homeowner’s association order and according to Fox News, Barfoot received support from the Obama White House as well as both Virginia Senators Mark Warner (R), and Jim Webb (D), along with American citizens from all across the United States.

The homeowner’s association allowed people to fly flags from an angular staff attached to their homes, which the homeowner’s association felt was more aesthetic (attractive), but Colonel Barfoot had other ideas. The homeowner’s association said from the start, that the issue was not the flag, but the flagpole Colonel Barfoot insisted on using.

The story of Colonel Barfoot’s fight with his homeowner’s association was a top news story on all the major television networks, as well as on radio, and in newspapers across this country. Fox News reports that Barfoot eventually won when the association dropped its request on December 8, 2009, ending the controversy.

Colonel Barfoot Was A Hero Long Before the Flag Controversy

Colonel Barfoot served in World War II and was awarded “ . . . the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, in September 1944 while he was fighting in France. The Medal of Honor citation noted his “herculean efforts” and “aggressive determination in the face of point-blank fire,” (NY Times, Mar. 4, 2012).

He did not stop there. Colonel Barfoot “. . . served briefly in the Korean War and was a senior officer in Army aviation in the Vietnam War. He retired in 1974 as a colonel,” (NY Times).

Californiaindianeducation.org wrote: “As a Native American Indian [Choctaw] recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Mr. Barfoot is one of only five American Indians that have been distinguished by receiving the United States' highest military honor (the Medal of Honor) during the 20th century.”

Many people followed the story about Colonel Barfoot’s fight for the right to fly the American flag in what he considered to be the most honorable, respectful way, but may not have heard of the exemplary heroism he exhibited in his service to his country. Colonel Van Thurman Barfoot is truly an American hero for all time.

Short History of Barfoot's Congressional Medal of Honor

Television Report On The Flag Controversy

More by this Author


Comments 90 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 15 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W., thank you for commenting and sharing this article again. Yes, it was so ridiculous that Mr. Barefoot should have to go to court to fly his flag by regulation standards. I'm glad he won at least a while before he died. 99 degrees right now and rising. Take care . . .


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 15 months ago from Houston, Texas

So glad that he won that particular battle. Many flags are now being displayed for the upcoming Labor Day. We fly ours all the time as do many people in our subdivision. Nice to see! Sharing this once again. Hope you are enjoying your weekend!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 18 months ago from North Texas Author

Aesta1, thanks for stopping by.


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

I have to admit this is the first time I've known of this great native American hero. Thanks for posting this. How unfortunate that he's not allowed to fly the American flag in the flagpole he likes.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Shyron, thank you for stopping back and for the votes, the post on FB, and the share!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

The Stages Of ME, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts about this amazing man!


The Stages Of ME profile image

The Stages Of ME 2 years ago

So proud of him for not backing down, he was and will always be a here. He is right with his own comment, "I feel I earned the right to let it fly." I enjoyed your hub and the honoring of our flag and of course this amazing man. He deserved applause every time a person passed his home and not attack for sharing his loyalty to his country. How soon we forget that if not for those like him, there would not be home to place a flagpole in fron to a home in the USA. God Bless


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

I came back to share this again. I admire this man so much, I never tire of reading about him.

Voted up, UAI, shared and posted on FB


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

PegCole17, thank you for reading and commenting on this article! I had several uncles who fought in WWII. I've known several people who were in the Korean conflict. I have some interviews on tape about WWII, but will I ever get the tapes transferred onto disc before they disintegrate?


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

What an incredible story about an amazing hero. The Greatest Generation truly had deep roots of patriotism and courage, as do today's soldiers who continue to fight for our way of life. This made me wish I had asked more questions of my dad who enlisted in the US Navy in 1942 and fought in WWII, Korea and during the Viet Nam era.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for commenting, voting, and sharing/pinning this article. I think everyone needs to know who this man is and that is why I wrote about him. Mr. Barfoot is a true American hero.

Things are going about as usual. Hope you and John will have a great week!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Au fait, I Love this hub and everything this man stands for, Mr. Barfoot is a real American. Voted up, Useful, Awesome, Beautiful, shared and pinned on Amazing HubPages.

I hope all is well with you.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for bringing attention to Mr. Barfoot. He is indeed a true American hero for all he has done for this country and everyone should know his name.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California

Since Patriot's Day is coming up in Boston, as well as the one year anniversary of the Boston bombing, I thought this was a good time to recognize true American patriots.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Tirelesstraveler for reading this article and sharing your thoughts on this subject. I would be honored for you to link to this article or any of my other articles. Feel free to do so any time.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Tom Schumacher, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this article! So sorry it was somehow misplaced. I think the Home Owner's Assc. in this case wasn't so much worried about PC as about the appearance and value of the properties they regulated and they had some sort of crazy weird idea that the flag would lower that property value.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron for stopping by, and for the votes and the share. There is no end it seems to the crazy things some people try to make rules about and laws against. Mr. Barfoot was an amazing man and a great example to all.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

When did our country become a country of all show and no substance. I solute the Colonel. Both of my parents were WWII army officers. I would like to link this to my tribute to my mom and my memorial day hubs if you don't mind.


Tom Schumacher profile image

Tom Schumacher 2 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

Excellent hub! Seriously, name another country that allows the creation of laws and regulations prohibiting its citizens from flying its nation's flag? The U.S. is quickly but surely losing its identity because we are too conscientious about being PC all the time. So I ask, who is America? Have we forgotten what the stars and stripes represent?


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

I love this Au fait, I read about it so many times and followed the story for when this American Hero, who fought for this country was denied the previlege of flying his and country symbol of freedom in his own land. And I wonder what kind of people would deny a soldier the right to fly his flag.

Voted up, UAI and shared.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for pinning this article!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you DDE, for commenting on this article. I'm glad you enjoyed!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

We can never honor our servicemen & women enough for the sacrifices they have made! Pinning this to a new board titled Red White & Blue.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting and informative hub from you. Your work is thought provoking and so worth learning from and you have showed that in all your hubs.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane, for stopping by and sharing this article. We should indeed fly our flags because people like Van T. Barfoot made it possible for us to do that. While we're flying those flags we need to remember our heroes who made and continue to make our freedoms possible and available to us.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for reading and sharing this article and for voting on and pinning it too. We need to learn more about our true heroes and then hold them up as examples for our children so that they too can see what a true patriot looks like.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California

With President's weekend just past, I noticed how few people were flying their flags. I respect Mr. Barfoot so much, and I thought I would re-share this to encourage other people to stand up and fly their flags proudly!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Au fait, I came to give this another share. I admire this man, and I am glad he won the fight that allowed him to fly the flag of the country that he fought to defend.

Voted up, UABI, pinned and shared.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

You're welcome Glenda. Thanks for stopping by. Mr. Barfoot is a true American hero and everyone should know who he is.


Glenda Jackson 2 years ago

Gotta love this man! thanks for writing this.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you pstraubie48, for reading and commenting on this article. I hope everyone will learn about Mr. Barfoot and the incredible contributions he has made to our country as a national military hero.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for your high praise, your votes and share!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by and sharing this article Deborah-Diane. What really makes Mr. Barfoot a national hero is his military service to our country. I hope everyone will learn about that.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for pinning and tweeting this article!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida

O Aufait I remember this story. I read it and shook my head as I did. He is indeed a hero ...a real example of what it means to take a stand for something we do so believe in.

Thanks for sharing this...too often these stories are newsworthy for a time but too soon replaced by something 'sensational." As for me this is SENSATIONAL.

Great hub

Angels are on the way to you today ps


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Au fait, I am so glad you published this article, this is one of my favorite articles by you.

This should be one of the hubs of the day. This man is a special kind of Hero.

Voted up, ABI and shared.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California

I remember when Mr. Barfoot's story was national news. I thought some people may not have heard about it, so I wanted to be sure my followers knew about the story, too. I admired him for standing up for his right to fly the flag. He truly is an American hero.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

I am glad you featured this hub at the top of your page. I realized by going through the comments that I had not pinned this. Pinning to Awesome HubPages and giving it another tweet.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you R2-D2-2 for reading, commenting, and sharing this article! Mr. Barfoot was indeed quite a man, and a true American hero who should not be forgotten.


R2-D2-2 profile image

R2-D2-2 2 years ago from USA

I heard about that issue Mr. Barfoot had with his homeowners assc. It was on TV. He was quite a man. They broke the mold when they made him. Really enjoyed this article about him. Going to share with the few followers I have.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

MG Singh, thank you for your high praise and for reading/commenting on this article!


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

Excellent post,and also an education as I never knew about this colonel.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Shyron, thank you for revisiting this article and for voting on it and sharing it. It is indeed appropriate for Veteran's Day.

Things are pretty much as usual here. Hope all is well with you and John . . .


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Hi Au fait, I had to come back and share this, it being veteran's day and all. voted up ABI.

Hope all is well with you.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Moonlake for pinning and sharing this article!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I wanted to pin this to my military board and shared with followers.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Paul Kuehn, for reading and commenting on this article! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you too, for voting on it, pinning it, and sharing it on FB as well as with your followers here.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Au fait,

This is an awesome hub and I really thank you for sharing it with everyone. Having lived in Thailand for more than six years, I was unaware of Colonel Barfoot and his controversy with the Homeowner's Association. I've dealt with the associations before and they can be rather picky. I'm glad the Colonel got to fly the flag and wasn't aware of his gallantry in World War II. Voted up and sharing with followers. Also Pinning and sharing on Facebook.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Deborah-Diane, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts and observations relating to this article, and for sharing!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for all the votes and for pinning this article. Sadly this is one of the articles that is usually idled.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I Love this hub and every thing this man stands for, Mr. Barfoot is a real American. Voted up, Useful, Awesome, Beautiful, shared and pinned on Amazing HubPages.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

I remember this story when it was on the news. It's sad when there are homeowner's associations that do not think it is aesthetic for there to be flagpoles with flags waving proudly above the homes. There used to be a trailer park along the beach here in Southern California. The mobile homes were occupied by a number of retired military. Although the beach front mobile homes were not pretty, nearly all of them had flagpoles and I loved driving along the ocean past a sea of waving flags! Eventually the trailer park was removed, but I still remember all those wonderful flags. I'm happily sharing this with my followers.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heritage, Shyron. Mr. Barfoot is high on my list or I wouldn't have written about him. With the 4th of July almost here, this is a great guy to get to know more about.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you, Diogenes, for revisiting this hub and for leaving a comment. Agree this man should be remembered and that's why I wrote about him.

xx


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I so admire this man, he reminds me of the Book "Warrior Mountain Folklore" where so many of my ancestors are mentioned. And some are buried in Indian Tomb Hollow. The author (Rickey Butch Walker) tells me that my great, great, great great grandfather was a Blacksmith in Indian Tomb Hollow, Alabama. And according to Butch, most of our ancestors are mixed with Cherokee. So that makes me feel close to Mr. Barfoot. Love this hub.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico

Revisted by me. The heroism of so many North Americans fighting in foreign wars, so many buried in graves far from their homeland, should never be underestimated nor forgotten. He was quite a man! Handsome, too.

Bob x


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you rajan jolly for reading, commenting, voting on and sharing this article. Mr. Barfoot was indeed a great hero of this country, but most of us had heard little about him. It was the issue over the flagpole in his restrictive community that brought everyone's attention to him. I thought he was worth writing about and I hope everyone will learn who he is and all the things he has done for all of us here in this country.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Au fait, I had no idea of this national hero. Thanks for sharing glimpses of his life. Voted up and shared.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

smcopywrite, thank you for commenting. Glad you enjoyed reading about Mr. Barfoot.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for tweeting this hub! Learning about Mr. Barfoot would indeed be a good thing to do on Memorial Day.


smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 3 years ago from all over the web

this is the perfect time of year to hear about some one wonderful. thank you for getting the word out about something so special.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Since Memorial Day is only a few days away, came back to share this hub again. Will also tweet.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by Shyron. It wasn't the flag the home owner's assc. objected to, it was the regulation flag pole. But Barfoot got past that too!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by Shyron, glad you enjoyed!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for commenting Shyron. I'm sure there are many heroic ancestors in your background. Remember the Trail of Tears produced many unsung heroes that we will never hear about . . .


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Author Cheryl, for reading and commenting on this hub! To be sure we should be able to fly a flag in the correct manner on our own property, and home associations should make allowance for people to do that.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

It does not matter who you are, no one should be kept from flying the American flag. We fly our flag.


Author Cheryl profile image

Author Cheryl 3 years ago

It is really ashame that someone that served our country even had to bear this kind of insult. Our flag belongs to be seen very high. As Americans we should have the right to put a flag anywhere and not try to be punished against it.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Very interesting Au fait, voting up AI and sharing.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W, for reading, commenting, voting on, and especially sharing this hub! While I wanted people to know Mr. Barfoot won the battle of displaying the flag, I also wanted them to know he played a much more important part in our history and should be remembered as one of our national heroes. Glad you enjoyed this hub!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you torrilynn for reading and commenting on this hub! Glad you enjoyed.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I love the story of Mr. Barfoot and I hope to one day find out that he is one of my ancestors. I have Native American ancestors on both my mother and my father's family, but Mr. Barfoot was Chataw and my ancestors are Cherokee.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

PegCole17, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub! I'm glad too that Mr. Barfoot was able to fly his flag like he'd always done. I thought it was incredible that the homeowner's assc. was trying to prevent him from doing that. We need rules, but sometimes the rule are ridiculous.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

au fait,

really nice of you to mention a true hero of the century. he is

story was indeed inspiring and intriguing thanks


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Bravo to the late Mr. Barfoot. He is a real hero and I am so thankful that he won that battle to fly the American Flag in his front yard. What a great story this is. Thanks for making me aware of this incredible man.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I remember following this story on the news and was very happy to learn that he won that battle of wanting to fly the American flag from a regulation flagpole. Most of the people who fly flags in our subdivision do so with those angular flagpoles attached to houses but a few have the large freestanding flagpoles in their yards. I'll bet every one of those are probably retired servicemen. Our WW2 vets are dying off quite rapidly given their ages. Soon we will have none left. Nice that you featured Van T. Barfoot and his part in history. UUI votes and sharing.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Yes, Mr. Barfoot was not only an extraordinary American, but a Native American as well. More than worth a tribute here. Thank you for commenting Shyron!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I heard a song one time and can't remember the title, but it was about a Native American who joined the Army and, this is what this story reminds me of.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you moonlake for reading, commenting, voting and sharing this hub! Mr. Barfoot was a rare man and shouldn't be forgotten. We have a lot of unsung heroes and I wish they could all come home today!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Very interesting hub. He was an American hero. Voted up and shared.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you again John. I try to write about things that will be educational as well as interesting. I was surprised to learn he had died too. He is one of our American heroes and everyone should know about him.


John Merrill 4 years ago

Think I remember hearing about this guy on the news. Didn't realized he died. Quite a guy. Interesting hub. Seems like I always learn something when I read your articles.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for adding your comments to this hub, Shyron. Always appreciate you and all my readers taking time to do that.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Mhatter99: Thank you for your high praise and for giving me a boost!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Angela. I appreciate your taking the time so much.

Barfoot's mother was 1/2 Choctaw, making him 1/4 Choctaw. He never registered his lineage because he didn't feel the need to take advantage of his heritage. Now, of course, the various Native American organizations naturally want to claim him even if he didn't register with any of them.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

voting you up and interesting, not only does he represent my country's best. He also represents my Native American ancestor's best. I say, God Bless him.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

in my opinion, today's best post. tweeted and on my FB wall


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Excellent Hub and superbly written Au Fait -- I'd followed this story as it happened but somehow missed that Barfoot was a Native American Indian and only one of five to receive the Medal of Honor. All honor to him -- he truly was a hero. Best/Sis


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for letting me know, Bob. I fixed it.

Have you noticed that I commented on a couple other of your hubs this morning? For some reason they weren't put in the feed. The site wasn't acting right for me this morning. All kinds of weird things were happening. This site still isn't acting right so far as that goes.

Anyway, I commented on your favorite day of the week and that disease you sometimes get from a horrid bug -- can't remember your titles, sorry. Can't remember my own either, so it's nothing personal.

Thanks for reading . . . MD xx


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

Interesting m'dear. His accident shows you should never fool with punctuation! (last line, paragraph two).

Don't hate me I have voted this up

Bob

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working