The second day of our long drive home we were on the road at 7:30 and as we left Charlotte South Carolina I noticed a large billboard. It was advertising an army training program at Fort Jackson. There was a young African American soldier in battle fatigues crawling along in the mud, presumably in a battlefield exercise, and in large yellow letters the words Victory Starts Here.
Driving for nine to ten hours gives you lots of time to think. My mind began to wander and wonder about that billboard. One of my thoughts was that a young African American in today’s army would not be part of the cavalry. Horses are gone from the army. Gone are the days of the Buffalo Soldiers. These were the African American soldiers who were members of the 10th Cavalry regiment that was formed in 1866 and their duty was to protect the settlers on the Western Frontier and battle the Native Americans who gave them the name “Buffalo Soldiers”. The last of the Buffalo Soldiers, Mark Matthews, died in 2005 aged 111 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
I went on thinking…..what did it mean “victory starts here”? Was this victory over some external threat? Since the radio was reporting a missile strike on Syria external threats were uppermost in my mind. But it says “starts here.” Here in the USA? What would the victories be in the USA?
I left that train of thought and reminded myself that although the 10th Cavalry was no longer on horses there were horses involved with the Special Forces in Afghanistan. In October 2001, American Special Forces took part in a daring charge on a Taliban stronghold . 1,500 cavalrymen galloped toward the village of Bishqab. This has been commemorated with a larger than life size statue at the foot of One World Trade Center, of an American Green Beret mounted on a tough Afghan pony.
I always smile to think that this is how those soldiers are honored. Not with a tank, or other conveyance of war, but with a soldier mounted on a horse!
The road went on. North through South Carolina. It was a lovely sunny and warm day.
After lunch it was West Virginia. My husband is driving the white truck, with bicycle mounted on it, in front of me in this photo. If I am the leader he says I drive too fast so I follow.
Then later in the afternoon Pennsylvania. Here it was still very warm but there were few signs of spring.
On our final day we left Pittsburgh and headed across the border, at Buffalo NY, to Canada. “Our home and native land” as our anthem says. And this was where winter returned. Sleet, snow, freezing rain and icy slush. We had to slow down for the conga line of de-icers. We didn’t mind. It was April 15 but in Canada we are always ready for the worst winter weather.
We made it safely home! The next morning I awoke and looked out to see this….
Rusty, the dog sculpture, was standing guard in an icy landscape. The freezing rain had coated everything in ice. Beautiful to look at but let’s face it…..not what I wanted to see in mid-April. However it is always good to be home. And we Canadians…we are not defeated by winter weather. Victory over winter weather starts here!!