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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Webb sends letter to HOA in defense of Barfoot

with 45 comments

Remember this?  “…we will have to see how many other elected officials rush to the Medal of Honor winner’s defense.”

It didn’t take long.

Less than 24 hours after his counterpart Sen. Mark Warner rushed to the defense of Col. Van T. Barfoot, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb has joined the fight. Webb has sent a letter to Karen S. Peterson, of the Sussex Square Homeowners Association in Henrico County to urge “reasonable resolution” to the situation.

His letter comes after Warner and the HOA had agreed to discuss the issue to prevent it from going to court.

The entire release from Webb can be found after the jump:


Senator Webb Urges ‘Reasonable Resolution” of Homeowner Association Dispute Involving World War II Veteran’s Display of American Flag

Washington, DC – Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today sent a letter to the legal representative, Karen S. Peterson, of the Sussex Square Homeowners Association in Henrico County to urge “reasonable resolution” of a homeowner dispute between the Association and Medal of Honor winner Colonel Van Barfoot over the installation of a flagpole in the yard of his home for purposes of displaying the American flag.

Senator Webb wrote in the letter, “As a fellow combat veteran, I hope you and the Association will consider the exceptional nature of Col. Barfoot’s service when considering his pride and determination in honoring our flag. I am pleased to join with many area citizens in expressing my concern over the action taken by the Sussex Square Homeowners Association.”

“Since it appears that Col. Barfoot’s request was denied based on subjective criteria as opposed to an explicit regulatory violation of the covenants governing the Homeowner’s Association, I would hope that your clients would exercise the discretion afforded to them to develop a reasonable resolution that would allow this distinguished combat veteran to honor our nation in a manner in keeping with the established traditions, customs and regulations governing the display of the flag of the United States of America,” wrote Senator Webb at the conclusion of the letter.

Text of the letter follows.

December 3, 2009

Karen S. Peterson
Coates & Davenport, P.C.
5206 Markel Road, Suite 200
Richmond VA 23230

Dear Ms. Peterson:

I have been made aware of a situation involving a dispute between your client, the Sussex Square Homeowners Association in Henrico County, Virginia, and a homeowner, Van Barfoot, a retired Army Colonel. It is my understanding that Col. Barfoot installed a flagpole in the yard of his home for purposes of displaying the American flag and that the Homeowners Association is now requiring him to remove this flag pole under threat of legal action.  I have been informed that the covenants governing this neighborhood association do not expressly forbid installation of flag poles and that the association opposed the flag pole on the grounds of its aesthetics.

I am mindful that the Association is a private entity, and I respect its right to regulate such matters. At the same time, as you are aware, Col. Barfoot served this country with great distinction, and I am very disturbed by the treatment that he received as he attempted to honor our nation by flying the American flag in the front yard of his home. The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” As a fellow combat veteran, I hope you and the Association will consider the exceptional nature of Col. Barfoot’s service when considering his pride and determination in honoring our flag. I am pleased to join with many area citizens in expressing my concern over the action taken by the Sussex Square Homeowners Association.

Since it appears that Col. Barfoot’s request was denied based on subjective criteria as opposed to an explicit regulatory violation of the covenants governing the Homeowner’s Association, I would hope that your clients would exercise the discretion afforded to them to develop a reasonable resolution that would allow this distinguished combat veteran to honor our nation in a manner in keeping with the established traditions, customs and regulations governing the display of the flag of the United States of America.


Jim Webb
United States Senator


Written by Ryan Nobles

December 3, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

45 Responses

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  1. Col. Van T. Barfoot could erect a 300 foot tall flagpole and paint it purple if he was my next door neighbor. I would be honored to live beside him.

    John L. Vaughan

    December 3, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    • A purple flagpole? As a good neighbor, I’d recommend that he not paint it while I helped him set it up. Purple clashes, I figure. :p


      December 3, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    • Thank you John. And I would be honored to know him personally and live next door to him as well, but I’m afraid I’d be in jail for opening up a can of whoop butt on a few neighbors. God Bless you Colonel and God Bless America and her defenders.

      Roger Davis Sr. (SFC-R)

      December 3, 2009 at 10:36 pm

      • Not only would my husband and I be proud to be his neighbors, but we would be there every morning and every evening as the flag was raised and lowered. We are proud Americans and no one will interfere with this, not even our HOA. We proudly display our American flag vertically by using a statue of an Army Lieutenant standing at attention. We haven’t been told yet by our HOA we can’t do this, but I already have a letter written in my head as to how I am going to respond. I salute you Col. Barfoot and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service and for not allowing the HOA dictate how you show your appreciation for such a great nation. God Bless!

        Rita Lewis

        December 4, 2009 at 12:41 pm

  2. How many Veterans would be willing to be at the next flag raising by MOH holder Col Barfoot?, and every day thereafter as long as Sussex Square Homeowners Association continues to dishonor this man?


    Benjamin F Schafer

    December 3, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    • As a Retired Veteran and recipiant of the Bronze Star with Valor I will gladly come raise and lower the flag with Col. Barfoot. To Col. Barfoot and your family, I would be honored to come stand guard on your flagpole.


      Eric A. Provow
      TSgt USAF (Ret.)

      Eric A. Provow

      December 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    • I absolutely assure you that if it were within my financial grasp and physical ability, I would gladly be there to stand with the Col. This entire thing make me fighting mad as hell. To think a man that’s given so much to and for this country being told by citizens of this coutry that he can pay tribute and respect to the flag of this country in his own front yard. Ohhhhh that stick in my craw like a chunk of glass!!! Know that I’ll stand with the Colonel in my thought and prayers and I’ll write and call everyone I need to in order to make known that American vets will not be treated this way by wormy little weasels.

      Roger Davis Sr. (SFC-R)

      December 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    • As a retired Vet and an owner of a flagpole, I too would be honored to guard the Col Barfoot flagpole.
      We swore to Honor and Defend, and as that other flag states, This We Will Defend. Sign me a combat vet not afraid to “stand too” again!

      Thomas Selvaggio

      December 4, 2009 at 1:43 pm

  3. Big Brother meets patriotism: a truly dangerous combination.

    Sens. B&W both implicitly recognize that the HOA is in the legal right; but they appeal of ambiguous standard of “the exceptional nature” of this case. How “exceptional” does it have to be: a Medal of Honor gets to 30 ft.; a Silver Star 20ft.? Where does it go or end?

    US senators intervening in a HOA dispute? Scary.


    December 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    • Does it really offend you as an American to see the flag flown on a proper pole? Have we forgot what country we live in?

      K L Drake

      December 3, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    • Not true. The HOA made a judgment call, and both Senators are stating their hope that the circumstances, and the “exceptional nature” of the case may warrant a new review and a different outcome. (Neither Senator is “intervening”; they are simply stating their opinion, as you have no doubt done, and as you are now doing. “Intervening” means becoming a party to litigation.) The “exceptional nature” of the case is legally relevant, as covenants are not waived or vitiated unless the entire anticipated scheme of development is undermined. Where there is such a judgment call made by an HOA, any such decision is reviewable by the courts. But undoubtedly you and your other “Sussex Square Neighbors” will learn all about that.


      December 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    • Why does it matter to you anyway? Do you or do you not believe in America and respect the flag that she flys? If not, get the hell out! If you do then shut the hell up. You know damn well this man has earned more right in this country than you’ll ever earn. There’s no doubt in my military mind that you’re a freaking liberal who thinks they have the right to tell everybody else how they’re going to live. When idiots won’t listen to logic and reason the it’s not scary that US Senators intervene, it’s necessary. It doesn’t matter how tall his flagpole is, it’s his and his property that he’s fought for. You should be over there every flipping day helping that old soldier raise the very flag that gives you the freedoms you enjoy. People like you are nothing but blood sucking leaches that live off the misery and sacrifices of others. Damn your home owners association rules, they’re Anti-American anyway. If you want a socialistic society then pack your bags and head abroad and by the way, take Obamanation with you.

      Roger Davis Sr. (SFC-R)

      December 3, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    • Nice spin, but not the case. The HOA agreement says only that the flag must be “asthetically appropriate.” It does not bar the flag or the pole. That means the HOA has near total discretion to allow or disallow any particular display. There is no “legal right”. The HOA has the choice to leave this Medal of Honor recipient and his flagpole alone or they can bully him over this non-issue. They chose to bully him, and that says a lot about them. Your slippery slope fallacy does nothing to convince me that this man or his flag are harming anyone. Obviously, that isn’t the case. If I were Barfoot I’d pick up my flag and move, so as not to have to live among such fools.


      December 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    • Neighbor,
      It may be that the HOA is in the legal right and if the case goes to court the HOA may even win, but would it not make better since to honor this man with an exception. After all, he has honored all of us.
      This fight that the HOA is putting up over a 90 year old mans 21′ flagpole is just not worth fighting. Even if the HOA wins, they lose…

      J. Sparkman
      TSgt USAF (Ret.)

      J. Sparkman

      December 3, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    • If not for hero’s like Col. Barfoot, petty minded ingrates like you and the Sussex Square Homeowners association would not have the freedom to be this calous and small minded.


      December 3, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    • SussexSquareNeighbor: Why don’t you move to Communist China? You would obviously be happier. You HOA people should be flogged to death.

      Leonard Jackson

      December 4, 2009 at 2:08 am

    • What ever happened to the concept of private, personal property in this country? We now have neighborhood nazis to dictate what kind of fence, shed, basketball hoop, etc. that you can put on the property that YOU work and pay for. What’s even worse is when you are forced to pay a monthly fee for their intrusions. Now THAT is scary.

      Devil Dawg

      December 4, 2009 at 5:55 am

      • That was beautiful. I wish I could have stated it like that.

        Wesley J. Hickman

        December 4, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    • Yes, you morons over there at Sussex Square are in the legal right. So? Who gave you that legal right? The blood, sweat, tears, and lives of millions of American men and women before you. Get a clue and learn some humility and respect. You guys are trying to protect your property values by preventing an “unasthetic” FLAGPOLE from staying up. Property values? Who the hell wants to live by a bunch of unamerican, greedy, morons?


      December 4, 2009 at 9:13 am

    • If that’s what it takes then so be it. You should be ashamed of yourself for not standing by your neighbor. Is it that appalling to look at that you and the rest of you community can’t back him up? If someone in my community would do that I sure would be there every morning and evening with the Col as he raised and lowered the symbol of our freedom, the American flag. It is because of him that we are able to fly our flag. So, shame on you for not backing your neighbor and an American hero.

      Rita Lewis

      December 4, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    • SussexSquareNeighbor-
      oh, puh-leeeez! Seriously? That’s your argument? Because we can, that’s why we should?

      Maybe decency, kindness, and respect should get written into your HOA rules, because I can see that it’s needed there. Afraid that if you allow him his, that you’ll have a huge crop of large flag poles all over Sussex Square? If that’s the case and there’s a large contingent in the HOA that wants that, then maybe the HOA should reconsider it’s stance anyway. Otherwise, what exactly is the eye sore or harm done to the rest in the community?

      Or instead, is it the exposure to public scrutiny that you protest? You’re absolutely correct if you think that this gives Sussex Square, and indeed Richmond, a national black eye. But it’s because of the decency lacking in the judgement call, not because of “big brother”. You’ll have to find something more concrete to hang your hat on, if you want to make a compelling argument for your stance.

      K C G

      December 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    • I agree. Maybe back when this was mostly a rural country, with far fewer people, then senators could get involved in local issues. But these days, they have bigger fish to fry.

      And if you don’t like HOA rules, then don’t move into a neighborhood with one. Everyone LOVES the HOA when it keeps their neighborhood looking nice for them, until suddenly they run afoul of the rules, then they bitch and moan about ‘personal freedom’ and ‘property rights’.

      You want unlimited personal freedom and unlimited property rights? Buy your own friggin island! Until then, yer gonna have to deal with the rules.

      Scott M

      December 9, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    • You tell us how high a flag pole a MOH recipient should get. Absolutely not the point. All he wants to do is raise the flag and take it down everyday. In his front yard.

      Use his MOH citation to determine his flag pole height right:
      “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 (then Tech. Sgt.) 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 pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.[7]”


      February 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    • Good thing I didn’t find out about this until now that its already been settled in the Colonel’s favor…and what is scary is that some raggedy “Homeowners Association” can tell a property owner anything about what he has on his property-that dog don’t hunt. When I own something, it’s mine. I would consider the Association as “Big Brother”.


      May 20, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    • Go live in Cuba you commie! SHAME ON YOU!!! You seriously need to go kiss his ass every day and thank him for your freedom – douchebag. Ingrate!

      Jill Infidel

      July 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

  4. Neighbor-
    I’d like to know something you’ve done in your life that is even a fraction of what Col. Barfoot has done. He wants to honor the country he fought to protect, (which includes you). Have you thanked him for his service, being a neighbor as you say? If you don’t think what he did was exceptional, you need to re-evaluate your life.
    (By the way, he has a silver star as well)


    December 3, 2009 at 9:23 pm

  5. Sussex Square “neighbor” simply oozes one paranoid slippery slope concept after another yet shows no understanding at all of how truly exceptional this man is nor of the honor he’s conferred on this community by choosing to live there and maintain his traditional respect for the flag of our country. It’s disgusting and saddening that this insignificant cabal of obsessive, compulsive, anal retentive trolls would raise this much of a stink about this to refer the matter for legal action.


    December 3, 2009 at 9:56 pm

  6. To Sussex Square Neighbors, you should be ashamed. If it wasn’t for Col. Barfoot and others like him, you’d probably be living in squalor and speaking another language. Since when has a flagpole been aesthetically unappealing? Maybe you should try spending some time with a vet and maybe then you will understand how he feels about his flag.

    Airforce Dad

    December 4, 2009 at 12:50 am

  7. The HOA shows off it’s true colors where subjective opinions are more important than the honor and service this man gave to his country. Allow the man his minor wish for the time he has left on this earth.
    What a team of ungrateful losers.

    Marty Kubiak

    December 4, 2009 at 6:01 am

  8. In 2006 then president bush signed legislation which bans homeowners associations from forbidding people to put up American flags.

    Guess these jerks at sussex don’t read or obey presidential legislation.

    Lonnie Jones S/Sgt USMC

    Lonnie Jones S/Sgt USMC

    December 4, 2009 at 11:43 am

  9. My Dad was a WWII Veteran. We always had a flagpole in our yard growing up. The HOA in question, as well as other HOAs and communities throughout our country are obviously more concerned about looks that Patriotism, which leads me to question if these people deserve to be Americans. Actions speak louder than words. The members of the Sussex Square HOA should be ashamed and not only drop this issue, but offer a public apology. If they really don’t want to have a daily reminder of the freedom they enjoy, and everything else our flag stands for -why don’t they buy his home at a profit to him so he can move somewhere that will be honored to have him and his flagpole. The HOA should also take a trip to Arlington to get an idea of how many Americans have died defending our flag, and those buried there are just a small number of Patriot that have passed on.

    Margaret Sorrentino

    December 4, 2009 at 11:44 am

  10. Can you name the Board Members and their voting record? Their vote position should be in the meeting minutes and should be public to Association members to publish.

    It is easy for weak minded Homeowners Association Board Members to rule until they are called into the public spotlight for their ridiculous judgment.

    RED Scorpion Six Blades

    December 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

  11. The HOA is violating the U.S. Constitution. This is a First Amendment issue, and Col. Barfoot could NOT, by law, “contract away” his right to free speech, by the HOA declaring after the fact that he chose to give up any amount of free speech in exchange for housing. Just as the Supreme Court declared that flag burning must be honored (THEIR word, not mine!), so must the freedom to display the flag in the proper way, the AMERICAN way, be honored as a form of free speech. Any Virginia attorneys out there willing to help Col. Barfoot defend his constitutional right to free speech?

    Constitution Defender

    December 4, 2009 at 12:42 pm

  12. […] senator Jim Webb is getting involved: Webb sends letter to HOA in defense of Barfoot Decision Virginia I hope they get enough bad publicity about this that they just drop it and let him be, if not I'm […]

  13. Like so many others, I would be greatly honor to meet and stand by Colonel at flag raising and lowering. I have never met and never hope to meet a man of his statue.

    I think the city or county or state should impose a special property tax on Sussex Square homes. Of course, all Congressional Medal of Honor recipients would be exempted.

    America is lucky to have such men as Col. Barfoot. God bless him and God bless America.


    December 4, 2009 at 3:00 pm

  14. HOA are there to keep property values up, so that the beverly hillbillies don’t move in next door preventing you from selling you house at a future date. It seems that they also hurt property owners. I would never own a house that was part of a HOA. You pay annual fees and then are at the mercy of whoever gets elected to the board.


    December 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

  15. The more I read about the gross injustice the SSHOA have done to one of the bravest men who have this served our country, I get wonder what type of low life he has to put up with. I am sure none of the people(?) that he is surrounded with have ever done any thing for this country that comes anywhere close to the way that COL Barfoot has. He has defended our freedoms by fighting in 3 wars. If any of residents of SSHOA are veterans, why haven’t they stood up for this man?
    The board members of this assoc. are a terrible waste of sperm.
    Lonnie Jones S/Sgt USMC

    Lonnie Jones S/Sgt USMC

    December 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm

  16. […] Decision Virginia notes the politicians who are jumping on the bandwagon.  Here is the latest, Webb sends letter to HOA in defense of Barfoot. […]

    • if i had the money, i would buy Mr B arfoots home at a handsome profit and move him to a better neighborhood.then i would go to the border and give the house to the first 20 or 30 illegals that cross the border. let the hoa deal with them and listen to ‘it’s because i’m illegal and loose in a court of law.Wave that race card in thier face. serve them right.

      deb rowan

      December 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm

  17. This homeowners association should be ASHAMED of themselves. If this American Hero cannot fly his own flag in his own country, then why call ourselves Americans!!! What happened to our freedom????

    Lori H.

    December 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm

  18. I think your rule is a great injustice to Col. Van T.Barfoot (RET) How can you live with yourself this man fought for his and yes even your freedom. I can not beleave you think a flag pole would bring down property values. I and a lot of other people would not even think about buying a place where you can not show your love for this country. You should fly the American flag high and proud to let people know you love this country.

    Kenneth Barnes

    December 7, 2009 at 11:51 am

  19. […] Obama administration follows similar gestures from Virginia’s two Senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Barfoot’s story has now become a national phenomenon. It has become a rallying cry for […]

  20. POETIC JUSTICE: They were so afraid that this highly decorated, CMOH recipient’s proud and proper display of the flag that we swore to defend “against all enemies, both foreign and domestic” would adversely affect the value of their properties. Now they have gotten worldwide attention for their pettiness and their properties have NO value. HOORAH

    R D Teresi SGT U S Army (R)

    December 8, 2009 at 9:17 am

  21. They should leave the Flag Pole there AFTER he passes away….. as silent tribute to a man that belongs to one of the MOST ELITE GROUP OF MEN IN THE WORLD.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves……

    Robert Schiller
    c.e.o. Noah/Robert & Co. Inc

    Robert Schiller

    May 31, 2010 at 3:24 pm

  22. Why is everyone harpin’ on the Sussex Square HOA? It’s the bottom feeding, scum suckin’ law firm Coates & Davenport that took the HOA’s blood money, and then, without lookin’ up and reading the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 (H.R. 42) and advising their client, the HOA that they can’t do anything. The HOA should sue the law firm for stupidity.


    April 30, 2011 at 10:02 am

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