It may have rained on the parade, but it didn’t stop the Culver Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes from honoring the man who “made us who we are today.”
The annual ride by the Troopers and Equestriennes to the Culver Masonic Cemetery was cancelled and the service to honor Gen. Leigh R. Gignilliat was moved indoors because of the weather Sunday afternoon. But the ceremony honoring him went on as scheduled in the Jud Little Riding Hall of the Vaughn Equestrian Center.
With the Lancer Band seated and playing in the gallery, members of the two horsemanship units gathered to honor Gignilliat, the former commandant-turned-superintendent who brought horses to Culver in 1897.
The event has become a tradition to remember Gignilliat’s passing on Oct. 30, 1952. As superintendent, he secured the Troop’s original invitations to the 1913 and 1917 presidential inaugurals and he conducted the forerunner of the Veterans Day Ceremony at the dedication of the Legion Memorial Building dedication in 1924.
Instructor Gary Christlieb, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, said it is especially important to remember Gignilliat with the centennial celebration of Armistice Day on Nov. 11. Gignilliat was a leader, a visionary, and an educator, Christlieb said.
His work with the preparedness movement prior to World War I and his writing of Arms and the Boy, which led to the creation of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), shaped the fabric of the school. And his willingness to “show off his beloved Culver Military Academy” to national and international dignitaries heightened the awareness of Culver.
Christlieb added it is only fitting, especially this year, that everyone should recognize that Gignilliat’s accomplishments have “made us who we are today.”