My grandfather (Pop) died three days before Memorial day several years back.
A man you needed to comprehend the language of “grumble” to understand.
An original Teamster he delivered dairy in Brooklyn with a team of percherons.
He fought in WWI and took his eldest sons with him to fight in WWII.
Pop was not a “touchy-feely” kinda guy.
So when he displayed any emotion besides annoyance I noticed. (No disrespect Pop, you know how much your grumbling made me smile).
When I was very young I had my first horse. I was one of the only kids in my “neighborhood” to go to school smelling like horse poop… my favorite fragrance to this day.
So Pop told me a story: It started like most of them did. He liked to try to gross you out… he lost most of his audience that way, but he only drew my attention.
“You know people eat horses?”
“Aw pop, get outta here.”
“They eat soldiers, too.”
“Ok Pop, what ya’ got.”
My grandfather then told me the story of the horses that went to Europe with them. He told me how his unit had Mustangs. He choked up as he noted the spirit of Freedom we were sent to Europe to defend and how the Mustang was the living embodiment of that spirit.
How the strength, love of Freedom and the will to “never give up” was wrapped up a package of loyalty. The best “man to have your back.”
“You put your mask on him first cause he can carry you out. You can’t carry him and without him you’re dead.”
Then in true Pop fashion he said, “So we left them there to be eaten.”
Pop then walked away.
The sense of betrayal, not only to the horse, but to the concept of “American” stuck in my 10 year old heart like a knife.
Isn’t it about time we begin to recognize the contribution these horses have given to our country?
Can’t we actually get it together long enough to recognize the value of America’s horses?
I’m on the road and just got the “go” sign….
I pray with you all this Memorial Day that the way toward communication to actually protect, not just manage, our wild horses shows itself. And that we all step down that road with the strength and will our wild horses can teach us.