Archive for January, 2014

Pigeon Hero – Cher Ami

I recently returned from a brief vacation and while there I noted that there were a great many pigeons, pigeons in parks, pigeons on beaches, pigeons scavenging on terraces, pigeons pecking on patios. Some were even canny enough to hang out near cafes and soar in to gobble a leftover muffin or pastry!   The tourists were trying to ignore them, there were signs on beach terraces…Do Not feed pigeons…and the resident population was not particularly bothered by the birds. I have heard pigeons referred to as flying rats, and that really hurts.  Pesty, perhaps, but ratty…never! The pigeon is technically a rock dove and there is at least one very famous pigeon, a bird that saved 200 American lives during World War 1.  That pigeon’s name was Cher Ami.  Cher Ami was a Black Check cock (male) carrier pigeon.  He was one of many owned by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France.  The birds were used to carry messages, but Cher Ami did more than that.  He Helped to save the lives of 200 men of the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division in the Battle of Argannoe in October, 1918.  In his last mission Cher Ami delivered the life saving message, despite having been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye and having one leg dangling by a tendon.  The tiny message capsule was still on his dangling leg.  The bird was awarded in France the Croix de Guerre for heroic service.  His Army buddies fashioned a tiny wooden leg for him.  On June 15, 2008 National Pigeon Day was celebrated in New York.  The 77th Division was from New York. If you visit the Smithsonian Institute, look for Cher Ami.  And if you are ever tempted to denigrate a pigeon, remember the men of The Lost Battalion.

for more information about Cher Ami visit amhistory.si.edu

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