ROBINSON, TX — A Robinson man's love for his country helps teach a special lesson about those that gave their lives in the name of freedom.
25 News reporter Dennis Turner introduces us to the man who leads, "The Riderless Horse" in many Memorial Day ceremonies.
"It's a privilege to me to be lead that horse in reverence to the soldiers that serve this community." Said Bill Johnson of Johnson Roofing.
Maybe you've seen Bill leading a horse, in a holiday ceremony or parade.
Maybe you think he just got tired and decided to walk.
No, there's another reason for what Bill does, one a few may remember and the rest need to know... about the riderless horse
"The principle is this you have a horse that is saddle, reverse the boats with a saber, with a long leader, and you lead that horse," he said.
His aim? to make us think about the soldier who should ride that horse, one that gave their life for us.
"Why did somebody do that. Well it took great courage and bravery and honor and sacrifice. And so those things are really important in America," said Johnson
It's similar to the Air Force "missing man formation" and it's become so important, that the riderless horse has a place of honor in presidential funerals.
One of the most memorable, the funeral of John Kennedy Where the horse "Blackjack" did the honors, and also in the funeral of Ronald Reagan, a noted equestrian himself.
Mr. Johnson has always been very patriotic but his time as the leader of the riderless horse came from out of the blue, in a suggestion from the Waco Rotary. Some Rotary friends noticed he had all the authentic items necessary for the display, from the saddle, all the way down to the boots which have their own special message.
"When you put the boots on, you put them on like that (backward), that shows the riders not riding this horse. He's not going to ride this horse anymore, He's through," Johnson explained.
The first year he didn't know how well crowds would receive him... one very emotional parade later, he knew he had to keep telling the story.
"In the first year I was asked to do it. And I asked if I could be last. Because they didn't know where they had room for the ride on his horse. And from then on we led the parade every year. Fantastic,"
And how long will he keep doing it?
"I've done this 13 years now, and probably do it as long as I can," he said.
Telling the story of men and women of our military, notable for their absence, instead of their presence.