Last Saturday as I ran into Walsh and Mollie’s house from the pouring rain…bringing toys , candy and cards…the kids were excited but especially the boys and it had nothing to do with Valentines… but history. Walsh has been studying the American Revolution-especially the Battle at Sullivan’s Island in the fourth grade.
Lachlan ( second grade) is studying the World Wars and he excitedly asked me if I knew how messages were carried and I responded… ” carrier pigeons.” He nodded yes and was talking a mile a minute about it. Rutledge was telling me about the palmetto logs saving the makeshift fort at Sullivan’s Island.
Music 🎼 to the ears of a history teacher Grandmother!!!
So I picked up a children’s copy of the story of Cher Ami … the most decorated WWI pigeon who saved the famous Lost Battalion. Figure the boys will enjoy reading it over a long weekend-Presidents Day.
Though carrier pigeons were used in both World Wars they were primarily introduced and used in WWI since by WWII more communication technology had been introduced.
Prior to the war Cher Ami ( French for ” dear friend” ) was a homing pigeon who lived on a farm in England. With the start of WWI Cher Ami was called to duty. At training camp Cher Ami even learned to march in line with the other pigeons.
Cher Ami quickly became recognized as one of the quickest pigeons to accomplish dropping off messages and returning messages …at nearly 50 mph.
Cher Ami was one of 600 messenger pigeons sent to help the French soldiers. Upon arriving on the French front lines… It was dark with gunpowder, loud and scary but Cher Ami followed directions … no matter the situation. Many times Cher Ami was shot at to stop a message from being delivered or returned.
One day a group of American soldiers were trapped in a ravine-they were being shot at by both the enemy -( Germans) and their own troops who mistakenly thought they were the enemy. They became known as the ” Lost Battalion.” Two earlier messenger pigeons had not returned so Cher Ami was their only hope.
Cher Ami made it there and the famous message telling their location was secured on its talon…or leg but as soon as Cher Ami took off German gunfire hit the bird in her eye, breast and the leg dangling with the message. But the little bird would not give up.. for twenty-five miles. One eye was gone, breast had a hole in it and the leg carrying the message was dangling by a thread and had to be amputated. ( One soldier carved a new leg for Cher Ami from a tree twig. )
The bird was declared a hero and became famous all around the globe. When the homing pigeon could travel … Cher Ami was returned to America… an honored mascot of the United States Army. Even though Cher Ami’s life was severely shortened by the injuries ( homing pigeons can live up to 15 years… Cher Ami only lived a little over a year but in the shortened life span… the bird had saved 194 lives with the Lost Battalion alone! )
Cher Ami was born April 1918 and died on June 13, 1919… today this date is celebrated as International Pigeon Appreciation Day. Cher Ami can be seen on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In 2019 Cher Ami received the Animals in War and Peace Medal of Bravery.
So until tomorrow… heroes of all kinds should be studied in history… they all have a story to tell! And what a story it is… all God’s creations!
Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh