While war can result in victory and lead nations to positive changes, the sacrifices that the men and women of war experience are immense. The fallen soldiers of war sacrificed their own lives for our freedom and for the benefit of the generations to follow. To show respect for these men and women, the United States Military often times uses an artistic representation during the funeral procession of an Officer known as The Riderless Horse, or Caparisoned Horse.
The Riderless Horse is a single horse, without a rider who follows behind the casket of the fallen hero. The horse wears an empty saddle with a pair of boots, which face backwards in the stirrups. It is believed that the reversed boots represent the deceased officer looking back on the soldiers that they led through war one last time. The tradition is believed to date back to the time of Genghis Khan and became a symbol of a warrior who would ride no more (Banusiewicz).
This display of honor has been used in many Presidents’ funeral processions, such as Abraham Lincoln, Ronal Reagan and John F. Kennedy. “Black Jack” was the name of President Kennedy’s riderless horse, who quickly became a national favorite and who author Robert Knuckle entitled his book after: “Black Jack: America’s Famous Riderless Horse.” While this particular display of honor tends to be reserved for an Army or Marine Corps Officer who was a colonel or above, as well as the President, the riderless horse is a demonstration of honor and respect for all the members of the armed forces (Banusiewicz).
Banusiewicz, John D. Customs of Military Funerals Reflect History, Tradition. U.S. Department of Defense: American Forces Press Service, 2004. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=26292