Flying the Flag with Horsepower

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1976 – Star and I

I love the month of July. In Utah it’s a month-long celebration of parades, fireworks, rodeos, city carnivals, outdoor concerts and other festivities. We not only celebrate Independence Day on the fourth, but Pioneer Day on the twenty-fourth. Pioneer Day is an official holiday which commemorates Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entering into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. All month long we see more than the usual number of American and State flags flying.

Patriotic feelings swell whenever I see the American flag, but it grows even stronger when it’s flying by horsepower. My fondest teenage memories are having the honor of carrying the American flag in parades and horse shows with my American Saddler, Star. She was a nervous horse and didn’t enjoy the crowd noises of cap guns shooting, cheering and cackling, but she behaved differently when the American flag pole was placed in its holder mounted on my right stirrup. I took the responsibility very seriously and apparently she did also.

Closeup of Star and I carrying the American Flag

Closeup of Star and I carrying the American Flag

I felt obligated to present the flag with the proper respect it deserves and within the set guidelines. I was concerned about keeping the flag straight upright at all times, never letting it lean from side to side or forward or back. This can be complicated due to the constant movement and changing of speed and positions while preforming the team’s drill. Also, the American Flag should never touch anything beneath it, and the horse carrying the flag should never back up because this historically denotes retreat. With my anxious horse, I was constantly worried she’d back up, which unfortunately she did do a few times, but I never lost control or dropped the flag. I didn’t realize these specific rules relating to carrying the flag until I was given the honor. I’d like to think I was chosen because of my horsemanship, but having a tall, beautiful horse is most likely the reason I was given the opportunity.

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1972 – Ginger and I                     dream to reality

Star wasn’t my first horse. While I love all animals, horses are at the top of my list for their muscular beauty. I had a gerbil, dog and a cat as a child, but they didn’t fulfill my ultimate dream of having a horse. We sometimes rented horses and I loved to feel and hear the beating of the ground as they ran with fierce power. To sit in a saddle and have control of this mighty animal was such a thrill to me. After years of begging, my parents told me if I saved my money, I could buy a horse. I would also be responsible for the feed and stabling. I saved the money I earned babysitting and cleaning

Dad on Chili

1974- Dad on Chili

Dad’s construction business office. At age twelve I had saved one hundred dollars and bought a beautiful two year old buckskin filly named Ginger. Dad bought her mother, a bay quarter horse named Chili. She was fast and had won barrel racing contests. I have wonderful memories of horseback riding with my dad.

1973 - Riding Ginger bareback

1973 – Riding bareback Ginger (4 yrs. old)

I joined the 4-H Cimmerons horseback Riding Club and learned a lot about horses and riding. Ginger was a gentle filly and was the perfect horse to train; she only bucked me off once. She never grew to be as big or was as fast as her mother, Chili. While horseback riding with my friends I was often teased, “Pick up your feet they’re dragging.” or “You look like you’re riding a basketball.”

Three years later, when Ginger was five years old, it appeared she was done growing and wouldn’t get any bigger. She was a perfect pet and I regretted needing to sell her because I had outgrown her. I loved and I missed her terribly after I sold her. It took a long time to get use to my very high-strung, spirited, but tall and beautiful American Saddler. Although I didn’t sell Ginger and buy Star with the ambition of carrying the American Flag, it turned out that way. Another guideline is that nothing can fly higher than the American Flag, so having a tall horse makes it possible. Ginger would have been a much calmer horse to carry the American Flag but her height wouldn’t have allowed it.

1976 – Parade drill routine

My happiest teenage memories are centered on horseback riding and the 4-H Club I belonged to. My proudest memories are the opportunities I had with Star to carry our American Flag.

Happy Birthday, America

Among the annals of national anthems as a prelude to sporting events, few have topped the one delivered by Whitney Houston before Super Bowl XXV in 1991 in Tampa. Just a woman, her incredible voice and the bare minimum of extraneous notes. Her rendition came at a particularly patriotic time, just after the onset of the Persian Gulf War, and was released as a single. It was re-released after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Houston donated all proceeds to charity. She ranks among the best of all-time because of the circumstances and … that voice.

Star-Spangled Banner

 

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!