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On Sunday I had the honor of attending the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard (2GHG) Annual Promotions and Awards Luncheon held at Edmond Town Hall in the Alexandria Room. About 25 troopers and their guests filled the room with nearly 100 attendees. The room had festive decorations, sparkling holiday trees, and the back of the stage lit up with an engaging slide show of all the last year’s activities. The 2GHG was busy in 2016 with numerous parades, annual training, K-9 and Iron Man competitions, car shows, the popular open house, and much more.
After the luncheon the awards presentations began, including the long-held Cavalry tradition of the Order of the Spurs ceremony. Nobody knows when this tradition started, but it was sometime during the Cavalry’s more than 200-year-old history. Silver spurs are earned by Cavalry recruits after they complete certain requirements. Historically, recruits became troopers after completing a “Spur Ride” or serving in a combat role within a Cavalry unit. The spurs are awarded during the ceremonial dining-in function, typically called the “Spur Dinner.”
This year, for the first time, the 2GHG held a fall recruitment class beginning in September. For the three recruits — Jonathan Spremullo, Naomi Rodriguez, and Edna Maucieri — they all successfully graduated from the recruitment class. All three were called to the front of the ballroom by Major James Marrinan, the 2GHG’s commandant.
Each dressed in their dress riding outfits, complete with tall black boots, slate blue breeches with a gold stripe down the outside seam, topped off with a dark blue jacket and gold accented belt. It seems some of my favorite horse and dog groups have blue and gold as their colors. The Newtown Kennel Club, the Fairfield County Hounds, and the 2GHG. It was quite an elegant site seeing everyone in their dress uniforms.
With all three recruits at attention, Major Marrinan called their sponsors to the front. Then each sponsor, with spur in hand, ordered the recruits to turn right. Then each rested their right hand on the right shoulder of the recruit in front of them. I was curious about this maneuver. Then as the recruits lifted their left boots, with heel facing the ceiling, their sponsors put on the first silver spur. This formation helped the soon-to-be new troopers stay balanced. Then I learned from the emcee that originally new recruits were not given spurs to ride with because they did not yet know how to use them properly.
“About turn,” came the command, left hands on shoulders and right boots lifted, awaiting its partner spur. Finally, with spurs on boots, a “right turn” command brought Trooper Spremullo, Trooper Rodriguez, and Trooper Maucieri facing the gathering. A burst of applause and a standing ovation greeted the newest members of the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard Cavalry unit. There were smiles and hoots all around. It was quite an accomplishment; they had completed three months of learning about very diverse topics from horsemanship to leadership skills, from marching commands to SOP about equines that dates back to the 19th Century. These rituals and knowledge come from a world devoid of technology, relying on horse sense, military traditions, and teamwork. Congratulations to all!
Table Of Honor & Grog
I learned few more things about Cavalry traditions while at the event. In the corner there was a small round table, set for one with an empty chair to represent the missing and fallen who aren’t present. A variety of items on the white table cloth all have meaning. But a few stood out to me: the red rose for the blood of the fallen, the lemon on the bread plate for the bitter fate of the missing, the salt on the plate for the countless tears of the families, and the inverted wine glass for those who will no longer partake. A folded American flag also sat upon the table, the kind you see at military funerals, along with a worn copy of the Holy Bible. A very moving tribute.
And then there’s the grog served at the event. I wanted to know the significance of that.
Making grog to serve at a military dining event in is a tradition of mixing together various alcohols. Each ingredient has a meaning reflecting service, traditions, and battles fought.
Here are a few examples: champagne to represent the fields in France where the Cavalry has fought, vodka to represent the Cold War warriors, brown sugar mixed in as “sand” from the desert campaigns, and in the Cavalry, a spur, of course, for the perfect taste. A few others with significance were added to complete the grog. Cheers to all those that have served and still serve in the Cavalry.