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.

Advertisements

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ginger
    Jul 01, 2013 @ 19:22:37

    Lovely day, lovely way to brighten the hearts and minds of our country’s veterans. Good work!

    Reply

  2. inthecompanyofhorses1234
    Jul 01, 2013 @ 19:25:43

    Thank you Ginger! It was a really special opportunity!

    Reply

  3. Paul Berenotto
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 15:45:36

    Mary Ann what a day, the Veterans as well as the staff were amazed at Mya and Valentine. The power of healing that animals bring to people is truly something to see and is so touching when you are apart of, or part of the reason for the joy and the healing to that person. I was amazed at how well Valentine and Mya did they just stood there not moving ,with the walkers, wheelchairs and photo flash was impressive. You did a great job in training them, and they did a great job making a great day for our Veterans. The word you wrote were very moving and filled with love, pride and much care . I would like to THANK YOU and Butch for bringing Valentine and Mya out for the day and hope we can do it again.
    Thank You again
    Paul Berenotto
    President
    Rolling Thunder Ch4 NJ

    Reply

    • inthecompanyofhorses1234
      Jul 02, 2013 @ 20:23:26

      Paul, I completely agree with you! The pleasure is ours! I had no idea what joy you guys bring to these Veterans. I know they liked Mya but I think Valentine really honored them. Thank you for the kind words and the invitation. You are welcome.

      Reply

  4. Susan
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 23:25:27

    MaryAnn, you’ve done it yet again. You have touched my soul, made me think and appreciate, and cry all at the same time. I am glad I had a sleeve. Thank you!! 👍😊

    Reply

  5. inthecompanyofhorses1234
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 00:31:27

    Susan thank you for the kind words and I am glad you had a sleeve!

    Reply

  6. Colleen McIntyre- Berenotto
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 02:50:50

    Mary Ann,Butch,Valentine,& Mya,words cannot express the energy that is felt throughout the Vineland Veterans Memorial Home since your visit! I have made a few trips to visit with our hreos,our friends, the residents,since your visit. The smiles get bigger every time I mention “the ponies”. Everyone wants to know when you are coming back.With each visit, a new story is shared with Freedom & I, as if it were yesterday, & a bigger tear rolls down my cheek! THE POWER OFHEALING THROUGH THE POWER OF TOUCH!! In The Company Of Horses……
    Colleen & Freedom…Soothing Those Who Served…

    Reply

    • inthecompanyofhorses1234
      Jul 30, 2013 @ 21:53:37

      This is such a great thing to hear Colleen! I’m smiling. In my experience, experiential learning is retained and deepens over time. So the experience the veterans had is still working on them! I will call you so we can talk about our next trip. Thank you for all you do and for taking the time to write.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: