Independence Day

Independence Day

Honoring our Veterans

What does it mean to a Veteran from World War II or Korea or a Vietnam Veteran to know people care about them while they are living in a Veterans Home?

“This is a great day”  said one 94 year old Veteran.  One  gentleman with a sparkling Cowboy hat put his arm around my shoulders and said, “She’s a quarter horse isn’t she, I said Yes Sir, He proceeded to tell me how he and his horse rode at the Cowtown Rodeo and he was a team roper; the smile on his face was priceless!

Cowboy Veteran

Cowboy Veteran

The staff at the Vineland Veterans Home was just as amazing as everyone else,  we thought we were going to an outside function under a tent with a cowboy theme, when we arrived, they said we are going inside to visit with the veterans and take some photos!  I said well, you know when horses get worried, they poop, the young man in charge said, we all do that. It was beautiful.

Visiting with the Veterans

Visiting with the Veterans

This gentleman got right out of his wheel chair to stand so proudly next to Valentine.  As person after person lined up and backed their wheel chairs in between the horses (with great skill I might add) to get their pictures taken I was more and more moved  by each of the stories; none of which I knew.  I only knew they all served in our countries military.  They were not all volunteers, many were drafted into service.  I got thinking about what that meant and more tears fell.

I looked around the room at who was there and I saw many people wearing denim vests covered with patches; I got a glimpse of one of the patches that said “I wasn’t there but I still care.”  More tears fell for me.

Freedom

Freedom

And then there was Freedom the Therapy Dog who is a regular visitor at the Vineland Veterans Home.  Young and attentive, I looked over and saw a patch on a denim vest of his person that said “Freedom’s Handler.”  I thought about the veterans and wondered if they should be wearing the same patch. This thought brought more tears for me. I thought of our current wars and drones and I thought of George Washington our earliest president and how he encouraged our earliest American warriors from the backs of his majestic war horses.  I looked over at my girl Valentine standing tall, still and proud while yet another veteran and their family members crowded in to have some photos taken.  The pride I felt for the horses who just as bravely were drafted into military service;  how they stood steadfast, like my Valentine was doing this day.  Tears fell once more.

I wished I had a tissue, I didn’t even have a sleeve, so I just let the tears land where they wanted.

Mya

Mya

The last person of the day who came outside to visit with the horses before we left was a little tiny woman in a wheel chair; she was hugging a stuffed white animal and singing a patriotic tune, she was kindof bouncing all over like a little girl might.  The woman helping her stretched out her hand to pet Mya, the pony, she said “good kitty kitty kitty”  then she said “you are too big to be a kitty” I told her Mya was a pony; I moved Mya closer and put her head in the little woman’s lap, she didn’t really have a lap because she had no legs, just these two little bouncing stumps; as she tickled Mya under the chin she said “Tickle tickle little pony.”

As we drove away I was moved once again at the magnitude of  what one of the patches I saw on those denim vests said “All gave some; Some gave all.”

In the Company of Horses Inc. had the distinguished honor and privilege to take two of our girls Valentine and Mya to the Vineland Veterans Home here in NJ.  Rolling Thunder NJ is a group of women and men who care about our veterans.  With deep gratitude I can say this experienced changed me.  I will think about Freedom for anyone in a new way.

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