This Blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses in our lives and throughout history. Visit the land of the unicorns in Behind The Mist, the horse lover's fantasy for pre-teens to adults.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BLACK JACK - Earned his Unicorn horn in the Army

November 22, 1963. That morning is seared in my memory like a brand on a horse's haunches. I was sitting in Mr. Lomax's music appreciation class at Lake Oswego Junior High School. It was a windowless room made of cement bricks that had been painted a pastel color, probably blue. Mr. Lomax was desperately trying to get a group of seventh graders to understand some aspect of music theory, a subject that I wouldn't appreciate until I was thirty, when a voice came over the intercom and interrupted, permanently, Mr. Lomax's lecture. President John F. Kennedy had been shot. A few other events are equally embedded in my memory: my marriage, the birth of my children and historical events like the first moon walk, 9/11, and today's anniversary...the Columbine shootings (we Coloradoans really remember that day!) But surprisingly few. If you weren't alive at that time, you probably can't envision what it was like. The media had made us believe that we were living in Camelot with King Arther (or, perhaps Lancelot) at our lead. It was like looking in a mirror and having it suddenly shatter before your face. I remember watching the funeral on our black and white T.V. I remember seeing a lovely, lean black horse being led down the crowd-lined avenue, riderless with riding boots placed in the stirrups...backwards.

(Photo taken by Ron Williams from the Arlington National Cemetary Website.)

I want to share with you what I found out about this horse. His name was Black Jack. He was named for the General of the Armies: John "Black Jack" Pershing. He was foaled on January 19, 1947 and became the last of the Quartermaster - issue horses. He entered the 3rd U.S. Infantry Stables at Ft. Myer on September 22, 1953. He was given the last Quartermaster brand on the left shoulder and the army serial number 2V56 on the left side of his neck. Black Jack served a long and honorable army career, including participating in the funerals of President Kennedy in 1963, President Hoover in 1964, President L. Johnson in 1964 and Five Star General Douglas MacArthur in 1964. When a riderless horse is led in a funeral procession he is called a "Caparisoned Horse." He is the symbol of a warrior who would ride no more. Apparently the tradition started with Genghis Khan. The draping on the horse, including the backward boots are part of the tradition. Black Jack died on February 6, 1976. His remains were laid to rest in a plot at Fort Myer, Virginia. He joined Comanche as the only other horse buried with full military honors. In the horse fantasy story, Behind the Mist, it is the noble and great horses that are chosen to become Unicorns once they enter animal heaven. If they complete their training, they are inducted into the prestigious Legion of the Unicorn. I, hereby, nominate Black Jack, the last Army horse, to the Legion of the Unicorn!

Send me the story of your Noble and Great Horse.

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