A One Man Army

Monday, May 31, 2010

A recent news report brought to my attention the wartime heroics of Van T. Barfoot as recounted in his Medal of Honor citation:

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.
Barfoot made national news due to a dispute over a flagpole on his property that violated his homeowners' association's aesthetic standards. While I am presently unclear on the details of the dispute, it appears that the homeowners' association backed down under political pressure, including from Virginia's Senator Warner. Depending on the exact nature of the dispute, the fact that a Senator either chose to bully a homeowners' association about a contract agreed to by Barfoot or that such intervention was necessary for some other reason bodes ill for the freedom that he fought so valliantly for.

An email circulating in conservative circles states of the story that, "WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE, ONLY BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE!" This is true only in the sense that such bravery is necessary to defend freedom. It is not sufficient, however. Without a polity that generally appreciates individual rights, we can lose that freedom without a shot being fired.

Let us honor men like Barfoot by working to thoroughly understand the nature of individual rights, and never backing down in defense of same. I want Barfoot to be able to fly his flag, but not at the cost of becoming a nation of men, and not laws.

-- CAV


Sandi Trixx said...

Great observation, Gus. Barfoot's argument is much in line with protesters, speakers, et al, demanding access to private property so they can sound off.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Sandi. From your comment, it sounds like Barfoot is indeed making the kind of bad argument I was afraid he might, and that in doing so, has shown that he does not fully understand what makes this country worth defending.