Equine Contributions to Military Missions Monumental

Equine Contributions to Military Missions Monumental

Photo: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

In countries such as Canada and Australia, the poppy--described in striking detail by Sir John McCrae during World War I in his poem "In Flanders Fields"-- is a symbol of remembrance and is recognized as a symbol for Veterans Day, a time set aside to thank and honor all who served honorably in the military, both in war and peace.

"Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served--not only those who died--have sacrificed and done their duty," says the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Humans aren't the only ones who served during the wars, and one way that the millions of service horses and mules are remembered on Veterans Day is through ceremonial parades held by such organizations as the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

According to Trooper Christopher Abernathy, "The whole purpose of the 1st Cavalry Division is to remember horses in war and to serve as a link to the past. This Veterans Day, we have two parades schedule that will involve 11 rides and mounts and one wagon" to honor the fallen.

Despite the fact that equids haven't been used extensively in combat over the past 50 years, horses are still being used today in Afghanistan and the middle east for transporting soldiers over rocky terrain and for carrying equipment.

Like their human counterparts, horses make monumental efforts when called to service, and the contributions of the millions of service horses to scores of military missions should never be forgotten. This is highlighted by the recent efforts by a number of individuals and organization such as those involved in The Animals in War Dedication Project, an organization that dedicated Nov. 3, 2012 War Animals Day when they unveiled their new dedication to war animals, remembering (among others) Sgt. Reckless, a little Korean mare who won many awards for bravery and service to the American troops during the Korean War.

Regardless of your country of origin and whether or not you use a poppy to symbolize your remembrance, spend a minute in silence on November 11 to thank the humans, horses, and large variety of other land and aquatic animals that served to protect our nations.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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