Remembering a legendary horse

Arlington, VA

If you are old enough to remember that windy and biting cold day in November 1963, you will recall the two most memorable photos taken during the funeral procession of President John F. Kennedy. The first, of course, is of his young son, John Jr., saluting as the caisson bearing his father left St. Matthew's Church on its final journey to the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery

The second photo was of a sleek, well-muscled jet black horse with a small white star on his forehead. Exquisitely groomed, even his hooves were polished. His black saddlecloth was trimmed in white. and a gleaming regimental sword dangled from his glistening saddle. As a symbol of a fallen leader, he carried spurred cavalry boots thrust backwards in the stirrups. The caparisoned horse was Black Jack.

Black Jack was a horse with high vitality. Every step of the way, his head bobbed up and down as he tugged at the walker's line. He pranced in such lively and spirited manner that at times he appeared to be walking sideways.

Black Jack served in The Old Guard for 24 years. Noteworthy, he is the last Army Quartermaster-issued horse to carry the official "US" brand, and one of only two horses in our nation's history to be buried with full military honors.

As a tribute to this beautiful horse, a memorial ceremony is planned to observe the 40th anniversary of his death and interment, February 1976, on Summerall Field, Fort Myer, Virginia. At this writing, the date for this event will be Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, at 11 a.m. The event will take place on Summerall Field, regardless of weather. A reception, by invitation only, will take place at the Caisson Section, where tours and refreshments with the troops will take place.

The primary planner of the event states that this will be a never-before attempted equestrian version of the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with horses and Soldiers of the Caisson Section taking part in the event.

Your attendance is cordially invited. The ceremony is open to the public.

Please make your own hotel reservations using the information provided in this announcement. The hotel special rate cutoff date is Dec. 24.

Hotel Registration – Sheraton Pentagon City

Call – 800-325-3535. Ask for the Wreath Laying group rate. The $99 special rate is available Feb. 1-10 and includes free parking and free wifi.

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