Letters to the Editor
The Augusta Free Press

Something to remember ... revisited

Last year, as the holiday season came to a close, I wrote an article for AFP readers entitiled Something to remember about the American Horses Christmas Tree and the lost hopes and wishes that died for the safety of America's horses from slaughter, due to the chairman of the ag committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

He effectively held in his committee a bill, The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, that would have prohibited the transport of horses for slaughter overseas as well as banning horse slaughter in America for human consumption overseas. Although there were 228 cosponsors, which was more than enough to pass legislation, the bill was never allowed out to the floor for Congress to vote on, and the bill died without ever being heard.

In 2003, in Hitchcock Texas, a beautiful tree stood as the symbol for the hopes from thousands of people all over the nation and from around the world. People everywhere sent ornaments to decorate the American Horses Christmas Tree as a gift of wishes for the safety for all of America's horses, from the terrifying horrors of horse slaughter. It was hoped that in 2004, the legislation to protect our horses would pass, and the American Horses Christmas Tree would receive a star at the top, as the gift symbolizing the end of horse slaughter in America forever. It will take passing the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to give that gift.

In 2004, with the realization that those wishes would not be granted, the tree stood alone, bare of ornaments, bare of hope. Twenty-five hundred tiny white lights were all that remained, as the lights represent the thousands of the lives of horses lost each year by the cruel and brutal slaughter for their meat. There was no lighting of the tree ceremony, and the only eyes to gaze upon the tree Christmas day were those of the many rescued horses who reside at Habitat for Horses. It was the first time in years, that it snowed in Hitchcock, Texas, on Christmas Day.

But in 2005, with renewed wishes and hopes for the safety of the horses, many horse organizations and anti-horse-slaughter coalitions fought hard to gain victory in Congress, and won with legislation that will save the lives of many of thousands of horses in this comming year. Although the legislation to ban horse slaughter in America permanently, still is needed, legislation has passed through Congress, that will for the first time in decades, prohibit the horse-slaughtering industry to butcher America's horses, for a period of eight months.

To celebrate the lives of the thousands of horses that will not die this comming year because of this victory, The American Horses Christmas Tree stands beautiful and tall, adorned with ornaments, decorations and all the renewed hopes and wishes, declaring the faith of those who will never give up on the dream of making the slaughterhouses in America close its doors forever, and the last horse is safe.

Even though this story hasn't reached its ending, it fills me with warmth and inspiration just knowing that tree is shining brightly across the heavens, marking the new beginning for America's noble horses in their journey to safety, forever free from the betrayal of mankind allowing their slaughter, and that in 2006 The American Horses Christmas Tree will shine even brighter when that star is placed at the top. And that will always be something special to remember.

- Valerie James-Patton, Shingletown Calif.