“…the image of the mounted warrior serves to weave a thread of continuity through our history as a people…”
It’s easy to sleepwalk through New York City without noticing everywhere around us the evidence of our military men and women’s ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day, which many Americans view as the start of summer, is a good time for us to wake up.
Emanating from our very first war memorials — erected before the Revolutionary War — America now maintains thousands of them across the globe. Collectively, they tell the long and complicated story of our emergence on the world stage.
There are more than 270 war memorials in New York City alone. The newest was moved to its permanent site on the southwest corner of the World Trade Center on May 4. Known informally as the Horse Soldier Statue, it depicts a lone American special operator in Afghanistan, launching our offensive just after the 9/11 attacks in what has since become the longest war in our history.
The statue’s official name is “America’s Response Monument, De Oppresso Liber.” It was commissioned by a small group of bank executives who lost friends and loved ones at Ground Zero. Its rendering was funded by the Green Beret and Gary Sinise foundations and contributions by many private citizens.
According to the sculptor, Douwe Blumberg, “the image of the mounted warrior serves to weave a thread of continuity through our history as a people.” To some, the 16-foot statue draws upon an enduring American mythology of rugged individualism and the horseback taming of a wild land. There is irony here in considering the intense teamwork upon which military operations depend and the advanced technology and complicated alliances necessary in defeating the enemies we currently face.
Whatever one’s interpretation of the Horse Soldier, we shouldn’t fixate on the bronze and stone of this or any other statue on Memorial Day. It’s infinitely more important to understand and deeply feel the sentiments that motivated their creation. In doing so, we develop a clear view of the biggest threat facing America today: distraction and complacency in the body politic.
The total commitment and sacrifice of the mounted warrior stand in stark contrast to that dangerous mind-set and make for an appropriate memorial to those who have served in all branches of the armed services since 9/11…(CONTINUED)