Updated: Aug 16, 2019
Repairing a Broken World: Picture Book Highlights Men Who Delivered Livestock—and Hope—Overseas Beginning in 1945, while Europe struggled with the desolation left by years of war, over 7,000 men and boys ages 16 to 72 traveled by ship on missions of mercy. They were seagoing cowboys—farm hands and folks from all walks of life: teachers, students, bankers, preachers, plumbers—and they were recruited to care for the thousands of horses and heifers sent for reparations.
Author Peggy Reiff Miller, the granddaughter of one such cowboy, tells their story for young readers in The Seagoing Cowboy, illustrated by Claire Ewart. The Seagoing Cowboy follows a young man and his friend as they board a ship bound for Poland. One cares for horses, the other for heifers on the weeks-long journey.
What they see when they arrive is sobering: the war had left the country in ruins, and many people had nothing left. The horses and heifers would go a long way in helping them rebuild their lives. Archival photographs, a map, and an author’s note supplement the story.
After her grandfather died, Ms. Miller’s father gave her a stack of photos. That’s how she learned that her grandfather had participated in this program. “Like my grandfather, many seagoing cowboys never talked about their experience with their grandchildren,” she says.
“With this book, I wanted to give families a tool to share the story with the younger generation—a story of how people helped to repair a broken world after a major war.” The seagoing cowboys program was made possible by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), an international relief agency supported by 44 nations. They ultimately sent over 200,000 horses, mules, and heifers to Europe and other countries devastated by war.
To learn more, visit: https://seagoingcowboys.com/