Memorial Day is a day to remember all of our veterans who have served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. While many just see this day as a day off from work, it is a reminder that we often take for granted the thousands of men and women who have given their lives in the service of our country.
That being said, we would be remiss if we did not remember the non-humans who have served in the war effort as well. These include the thousands of horses, dogs, pigeons- even dolphins- who have helped the U.S. war effort throughout the years. From Washington’s horse Nelson, who carried him through the Revolutionary War, to Sergeant Reckless who helped to carry ammunition and wounded soldiers in the Korean War, we have depended upon horses for our success on the battlefield.
Today, the military uses horses not only for ceremonial purposes, but also in the Middle East and other areas of the world when even all-terrain vehicles are not able to traverse the terrain. Horses were ridden in combat in 2001 (the first time since 1942) against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and a statue commemorates their service at the 9-11 memorial.
And while Memorial Day is a day to remember all of those who may have passed, we also need to remember our soldiers who are still alive, but who have been injured in battle. Horses are key to helping those soldiers as well, and equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) has been found to be one of the more successful ways to help our returning soldiers who are suffering from PTSD and other traumatic injuries, and therapeutic riding therapy is also used to help our soldiers who have physical injuries.
So on Monday, between deciding what to put on the grill, take a moment to thank our veterans for the freedoms we enjoy today. And then take another moment, and remember ALL of our veterans.