Memorial Day ~ Lest We Forget

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On thy grave the rain shall fall
from the eyes of a mighty nation.

Thomas William Parsons


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From these honored dead we take increased devotion
to that cause for which thy gave
the last full measure of devotion …
that we here highly resolve
that these dead
shall not have died in vain.

Abraham Lincoln

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When The Coast Guard Patrolled The Beaches On Horseback

Using horses to assist in the patrol of the United States beaches began as early as 1871. The beach patrols were normally done on foot and at that time were operated by the Life Saving Service, a predecessor of the modern Coast Guard.

The inspections were done with foot patrols who watched the coastlines for ships in distress. Horses were used to haul boats from storage sheds to the launching point to rescue crews from ships run aground.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Coast Guard put into action a wartime beach patrol. In 1942, the Coast Guard officially saddled up.

Horses were now the authorized means of patrolling the U.S. beaches. This allowed far more territory to be covered faster and more easily than men on foot.

The U.S. Army provided the horses and the Army Remount Service supplied the riding gear.  It was the Coast Guard that provided the uniforms for each rider.

The word was quickly sent out that the Coast Guard was looking for men who knew how to ride and handle horses.

Applicants answering the call to duty ran the gamut of experienced equestrians. This included polo players, cowboys, jockeys, rodeo riders, stunt men, horse trainers, Army Reserve cavalrymen and more.

During World War II, there was great concern about enemy vessels nearing U.S. shores, allowing adversarial forces to invade the nation.

The beach patrols gained increased importance as security forces. There were three basic functions: to look for and report on any suspicious vessels operating in the area; to report and prevent attempts of landings by the enemy; and to prevent communication between persons on shore and the enemy at sea.

The mounted units soon became the largest segment of the entire beach patrol.  Within one year after the Coast Guard authorized the use of horses, there were nearly 3,000 horses called to duty.

The use of horses allowed patrolmen to carry radios, rifles and sidearms when astride. Being on horseback further provided an advantage in the event a patrol had to run down a suspect or block an escape.

Mounted patrol teams required at least two riders.  In some cases dogs worked alongside the horses. The use of these animals added to the patrol’s ability to detect persons or situations that might not be observed by the patrolmen.

“While it was not their mission to repel an invasion from the sea, the Coast Guard beach patrols performed a vital function insofar as the morale of the America people was concerned,” said Chris Havern, a Coast Guard historian. “The beach patrols provided a presence that re-assured the American homefront that they were being protected by a vigilant armed force.”

The work of beach patrols – either on foot, in vehicles or on horseback – could be very difficult.  However, these were strong, highly motivated men dedicated to do their part for the war effort. A declassified report about the beach patrol from 1945 provides a glimpse into the morale of these men:

“Despite the many difficulties encountered and overcome, the morale of the men was universally high…Where horses and dogs were used, consideration of the animals was often more important than the comfort of the men. Upon them, as much as upon the welfare of the handlers, depended the sustained vigilance of the patrols…The methodical tramp tramp of weary feet plodding their beats back and forth, amid fair weather and foul, stood as a constant reminder that the military duties on the home front are often as essential to victory as the more exciting activities to the far-flung battle line.”

After World War II, the Coast Guard never again used mounted patrols.  But this unusual part of the service’s history illustrates its unending flexibility and adaptability.

It is a shining example of how the Coast Guard lives up to its motto of Semper Paratus: Always Ready.

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Source: The Coast Guard Compass
Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

4th of July ~ There’s Nothing Like A Parade!

Lest We Forget …

 

MEMORIAL DAY
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Remember the fallen … the price was so great.

 

Right Out Of History: Wagon Trains Celebrate Minnesota 150th Anniversary

Minnesota Sesquicentennial Wagon Train

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The first weekend of May, Minnesota began the kickoff celebration of their historic past with the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train.

In all, about 85 people, on horseback and in covered wagons, buggies, surreys and one stagecoach are taking a week long,  100 mile journey, which will end Sunday at the State Capitol.

The arrival of the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train at the State Capitol is the linchpin for the kickoff for the state’s 150th birthday celebration.

The travelers started with two stuck wheels, a willful mule, a handful of skittish horses and a thrown rider. That was all before noon.

 A “green” horse three times took his driver off-road. A mule seeking his pasturemate took off, throwing his rider in the tall ditch grass.

When the group circled at noon, wagon master Olson was philosophical. I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow,” he said Monday. “The first day’s always an adjustment.”

Among the group were Pete Karpe who came from his farm in St. Francis, bringing his Percheron draft horses Trixie and Dixie, as well as his son, Mark, a capable, horse-mad 14-year-old.

Susan Longling, of Farmington, a confessed wagon-train addict, brought her Prince to pull the surrey she’d converted from her grandfather’s dairy (and bootleg liquor) cart.

As a strong sun broke through the crisp morning air, wagon master Jon Olson shouted, “Wagons, ho!” and the caravan rattled across the fairgrounds, onto the road.

Karpe had some trouble at the start, when the rig he drove became stuck in the mud. But once on the road, Dixie and Trixie easily caught pace with the group, their shod hooves ringing on the asphalt.

Townsfolk lined the streets of Cannon Falls, gathering before homes and shops to smile, wave and snap pictures.  A group of elementary kids held a hand-lettered sign: “Happy Birthday, Minnesota!”

This was “Americana” at its best!

The caravan continued, past bare fields and stands of cedar and elm.

Clay Christian the logistics man, said “We’ve got it easy”. “We’ve got county roads to go down, bridges to go across, no cliffs to take the wagons apart and lower ‘em down.”

 The covered wagon is an icon of the American frontier. Still, in the 1850s, most arrived by water, via Mississippi steamboat.

From there, with the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the Mississippi behind them, settlers fanned out, often in wagons, all over the state.

The covered wagon was like the 19th century sport-utility vehicle, said Matt Anderson, a curator for the Minnesota Historical Society who specializes in transportation artifacts.

And contrary to the archetype, wagons weren’t meant for people. Usually, they were packed with luggage or cargo.

“Anybody who could walk, I’m sure did,” Anderson said.

Although the rigs at camp are more or less authentic, it’s hard to ignore some of the comforts of today: coolers, lawn chairs, RVs, digital cameras and the occasional chiming cell phone.

In spite of unexpected events along the way, when the ride was completed it was said that  “A bad day doing this is still better than a good day doing anything else.”

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Re-written from news sources:

Rancher On Horseback Finishes Ride Across America

bill-inman-blackie-finishes-ride.jpg

Bill Inman atop his horse Blackie
as riders in Hendersonville, N.C. welcome him

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January 13, 2008

 An Oregon rancher who set off on a cross-country horseback ride seven months ago in search of what’s good in America dismounted Sunday, feeling encouraged by the spirit and stories of the people he met.

Bill Inman began his journey June 2 because he felt distress over how the country was being portrayed in news coverage and on TV shows. He rode his 16-year-old thoroughbred-quarter horse Blackie.

His wife, Brenda, and a four-person support crew joined him on the trip through eight states.

Along the way, Inman collected stories of hardworking, honest everyday people in rural America.

His cross cross-country trek was dubbedUncovering America by Horseback, a website that noted his experiences, including videos.

bill-inman-group-supporters.jpg

The scenery in America is changing and I’m really proud we took snapshots at slow motion of this time period because 20 years from now it will be different,” he said.

Inman talks about the retired rancher in Idaho who he considers “a true image of America with his honesty and hospitality,” or people he’s met working multiple jobs to make ends meet, or another Idaho rancher e-mailing the progress of the journey to his son in Iraq.

“There is nothing like riding across the nation to learn about the people of this country,” he said.

bill-inman-crowds.jpg

Among the people he met was a Wyoming deputy sheriff who drove 25 miles through a thunderstorm to bring dinner to him and his wife, and all 17 people of a Colorado town who came out to see him ride off.

An Idaho state trooper paid him $20 for the chance to sit on top of Blackie, he said.

“Sometimes, I was more intrigued by the stories they were telling than the stories I was telling,” Inman said.

Inman finished his trip riding into the southwestern North Carolina town under overcast skies. A crowd of more than 100 people greeted Inman as he ended the journey.

bill-inman-blackie-fredonia-kansas.jpg

Crossing the plains of Kansas

“I don’t know if that’s really sunk in yet. It may take me two or three days to think it’s over,” Inman said in a telephone interview.

Inman ticked off a list of what’s been bad about the trip — temperatures ranging from 108 degrees to freezing, pesky insects, water shortages, crossing mountains and desert and riding in a lightning storm. People aren’t on the list.

“I haven’t run into any bad people,” he said.

Inman bought Blackie in 2001. The two have clearly bonded.

“I know his capabilities and I know his flaws and I think he can say the same thing for me,” he said.  “Now if you think we’re constantly kissing buddies, I don’t think so.

Do I brag about him a lot? Yeah.”

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Re-written from news sources:

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