RHIP: Let him fly the flag

Col. Van T. Barfoot (Joe Mahoney/RTD)

There is a saying in the military that “rank has its privileges.” As a corollary to that, I often say that age has its privileges. I think both apply in the case of 90-year-old Medal of Honor recipient Col. Van T. Barfoot.

According to a number of stories, the Henrico man has been ordered by his homeowner’s association to remove a flag pole from his yard. Apparently, it’s OK to have a flag pole attached to your house, but not a free-standing vertical pole.

Barfoot lives in the Sussex Square community in far western Henrico; its board of directors rejected a plea from Barfoot in July to approve the pole, disallowing the fixture on aesthetic grounds.

Aesthetic grounds? Really? No other reason than the board didn’t think it looked right? Wow. Take a look at this video (courtesy of The Richmond Times-Dispatch):

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Sen. Mark Warner has jumped into the fray. But it shouldn’t have come to that. RHIP and so does age. Let the man have his flagpole.


15 thoughts on “RHIP: Let him fly the flag

  1. The board is elected by the homeowners. Why couldn’t he strengthen his petition to the board by garnering sympathy from his fellow homeowners? I don’t know what this HOA’s governing documents say; but in mine, with enough owners, you can call meetings of members, amend the governing documents, and I think also remove directors. I think that might have been an amenable way to resolve the issue prior to putting up the flag pole. If the board saw that their opinion on the matter was not supported by the residents, they would probably have just dropped it. Putting it up anyway probably contributed to this escalation.

    The Virginia Code is specific about HOA’s and flag display (§ 55-513.1), If the daughter is right and this was not in the governing documents and not in a disclosure to homeowners, then the board is in the wrong (but I guess their lawyers would have told them that).

    Also, I don’t think Senator Warner should have involved himself.

  2. If something so simple can make this war veteran happy, I say let him have his flagpole. It is a shame that the homeowners association has obviously put their rules above Old Glory. I think maybe the association should take a trip to a veterans hospital and maybe they might rethink their position. Shame on them and shame on the attorneys who took the case against this man. If he needs a lawyer I will be happy to help him. In fact I think I will contact him just in case. Mark Warner has really stepped up to the plate and so should Jim Webb and Kirk Cox.

  3. After my retirement from our Navy, I considered living in community with covenants. I eventually decided against living in a covenant community because of too many restrictions on my property rights. Others like such covenants, since they tend to keep property values high and keep dirt bags from running down the neighborhood with junk cars in their yards or going overboard with various, “yard art.”

    Many citizens, especially those who have claimed outrage over this flagpole issue, seem to not understand that a community covenant is binding on all of those who ELECT to live there.

    There are no special rights afforded to any of the residents, other than those that are a matter of law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    People who have served in our military should have a heightened appreciation for such covenants and should be the most likely to adhere to them, not to violate or flaunt them

    The right way to address this issue is to seek a variance from the Board. If that fails, seek to have the Board replaced or the specific prohibition lifted for everyone. Better yet, move away.

    This fellow knew the rules when he moved there. Those outside the community have no right to tell the homeowner’s association to change their covenants; a bond made between their fellow community members.

    No special rights for any citizen and equality for all. That’s the American way.

  4. BTW, a loyalist during the Revolution put it this way: “It’s better to have one tyrant a thousand miles away than a thousand tyrants a mile away.”

  5. I’ve been reading repeated stories about homeowners’ associations going after flagpoles since the 1970s. I lived in a neighborhood with an association once, and I couldn’t help laughing at the absurdity of the notion that those cookie-cutter townhouses had an aesthetic worth preserving.

  6. I often wonder why someone would spend over a hundred thousand dollars, and let some retired Lt. Colonel with a clipboard and some appointed power, tell them what kind of doormat they could put out in front of their homes! These people sign the papers, then whine about the terms of the very papers, they signed. While I feel bad for this American Hero, he did agree to the terms of living in one of these Stepford Communities! Play the role, pay the toll!

    Randy (previous poster) makes a very clear and valid point about the “aesthitics” of these pitiful excuses for a community. In my time they were called “apartments” now they’re “condominiums”! P.T. Barnum, proven right, yet again!

  7. Wow if only some of our Post Offices would
    have an employee go out and put the flag up their pole, I bet this guy would do it for them.

  8. Like anything else, homeowner associations have their pros and cons.
    Pro: the association provides the means to go after a neighbor who creates a public nuisance.
    Con: most people don’t take the time to involve themselves in the management of the organization. So it is too easy for a small cadre of busybodies to take over and make a nuisance of themselves.

  9. I wish the media would get the story right that this isn’t a confict over the FLAG, but the FLAGPOLE. He could fly the flag from a staff on the front porch.
    That said, I’d let him have his flagpole, but then I’m the kind of person who’d never move into a community with an HOA that could tell me what to do with my property (although I do choose to live in a historic district where I’m some what limited). He did choose to do so.


      Some people call me the Star Spangled Banner. But what ever they call me I am YOUR FLAG, the flag of the United States of America. Something has been bothering me, so I thought I might talk it over with you – because it is about you and me.
      I remember some time ago people lined up on both sides of the street to watch the parade and naturally I was leading every parade, proudly waving in the breeze. When your daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and laid it against his left shoulder so that his hand was directly over his heart – remember?
      And you, I remember you – standing there straight as a soldier. You didn’t have a hat but you were giving the right salute. Remember little sister? Not to be outdone she was saluting the same as you with her right hand over her heart – remember?
      What happened? I,m still the same old Flag. Oh, I have a few more stars added through the years and a lot more blood has been shed since parades of long ago.
      But now I don’t feel as proud as I used to, when I come down your street you just stand there with your hands in your pockets and I may get a small glance and then you look away. Then I see the children running around and shouting – they don’t seem to know who I am. I saw one man quickly take his hat off and look around. He didn’t see anybody else with hats off so he quickly put his back on.
      Is it a sin to be patriotic anymore? Have you forgotten what I stand for and where I’ve been? Anzio, Guadacanal, Korea and Vietnam. Take a look at the Memorial Honor Rolls sometime of those who never came back to keep this Republic free. One Nation Under God,when you salute me you are actually saluting them!
      Well, it won’t be long until I’ll be coming down your street again so when you see me, stand straight, place your right hand over your heart – and I’ll salute you by waving back and I’ll know YOU REMEMBERED!!!

      “This was read and given to me at our local High School that remembers us veterans and the flag”
      Another retired army officer from Korea, and Vietnam (twice). God Bless You.

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