Radnor Hunt included a unique ceremony following Opening Meet on November 5th. Members and guests unfolded a 20-by-30 foot American flag to honor the patriotism of those who served in World War One. Part of a traveling memorial, the flag was properly refolded and participants signed their names in a log book which accompanied it to the next destination. This stirring observance was coordinated by Saving Hallowed Ground, a program whose mission is "to preserve and protect monuments and markers commemorating veterans and patriotic citizens, wherever they may be found."
Photo courtesy of Radnor Hunt.
Radnor Hunt member, Eugene Hough, is the co-founder and monument education/preservation field specialist for the Saving Hallowed Ground program. Recognizing the historic connection between foxhunting and the military, and particularly the contributions of many foxhunters on the battlefield in World War One, he encouraged Radnor to feature the flag display at a meet. Radnor Hunt president, Franny Abott, led the Pledge of Allegiance at the event.
Formally called the National World War One Centennial Memorial Traveling Flag Project (Follow The Flag), a partnership with the United States World War One Centennial Commission, the program brings the donated flag "to receptive communities across the nation and around the world for ceremonial use. During these events, participants ... unfold, display, and refold the flag as a group." White gloves are provided to protect the flag and add to the ceremony, particularly for young people taking part.
Children's involvement is a special interest for Hough, who also oversees related initiatives teaching children to research the lives of individual names on monuments in their communities, and assisting veterans with PTSD through memorial and monument restoration. He sees an "all-important need to report on the stories of the impact of the Great War on the foxhunting community, and the equine community at large." By physically handling the flag, in accordance with proper protocol, young riders can feel a connection to the people and events from a century ago. So far, the flag has visited more than 30 events with over 1100 participants.
Hough also hopes that other hunts will follow the lead of Radnor and take up the challenge to welcome the flag and its special significance at their meets. "The centennial of the United States' entry into World War One is April 6, 2017. We'd love to have the foxhunting community be a part of this dynamic memorial."
Saving Hallowed Ground is a worldwide education and advocacy organization supported by the Uncommon Individual Foundation's community mentoring principles, to preserve and protect monuments and markers commemorating veterans and patriotic citizens.
For more information about the program, visit savinghallowedground.org.