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This is Page 27.

See some past weeks' photos below.

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.

See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.


We welcome your pictures. We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We're looking for vintage photos and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us for information about sending it to us.

Each week, we'll post selected photos from those received. We'll also share some photos posted previously elsewhere at CowboyPoetry.com.


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 Email us for information about sending it to us.



If you enjoy this feature, you may also be interested in our 
Western Memories Project, the personal recollections— many with photos— contributed by BAR-D visitors.  Your stories and photos are welcome.

Memorial Day, 2008
posted May 22-26

previous weeks' photos

index of all photos

In a Memorial Day tribute to all who have given their lives in military service, we are grateful to Nebraska rancher, writer, and poet Willard Hollopeter and his family for honoring our request to share memories and photos of Corporal Josiah Hollopeter. 

Josiah Hollopeter and his sniper team were ambushed in Al Muqdidiyah in June, 2007. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division,  based in Fort Hood, Texas.

Willard writes:

My grandson, Specialist E-4, Josiah Hollopeter was killed by enemy fire in Iraq June 14, 2007. He was 27 years old.

Joe did the normal kid things while growing up. He was active in sports, playing baseball and football and wrestling in high school. He also helped me in the hayfield and with cattle work for a few years.


He was caring and compassionate but there got to be a time, in his adolescence, when Joe rebelled against authority, running afoul of the law on occasion. He finally straightened himself out and became a productive, hard working asset to each community where he lived.


Kalen, Josiah's nephew; his brother Tyler, and Josiah.

Josiah wanted in the Army but his penchant for tattoos was keeping him out. He kept trying until he got in. His mother and father, his sister and a cousin got tattoos to honor that struggle.


After Joe’s death his mother wrote a letter to president Bush, telling of Joe’s attempt to get in the Army, even trying to call the White House for assistance. She wrote about his dedication to what he was doing in Iraq, believing he was doing some good by being there. Bush answered the letter, sending with it a presidential medal, which is certainly a treasured family keepsake.

Lieutenant, Tyler Hollopeter, a helicopter pilot in Iraq at the time, escorted his brother home and the demonstration of love and respect and gratitude, shown by the community, for a fallen warrior was overwhelming, bringing many tears.

Josiah was buried in the Wood Lake, Nebraska cemetery, with full military honors, and was posthumously promoted to the rank of Corporal.



He tried riding some calves,
when he was a little guy.
He wasn’t getting them rode,
but Joe had a lot of try.

He rebelled some growing up,
on him, the cops kept an eye.
But he got it all straightened out,
‘cause Joe had a lot of try.

He’d had some fights along the way,
sometimes with a bigger tougher guy.
He most usually won those fights,
Joe had a lot of try.

They wouldn’t let him in the army,
too many tattoos, they said was why.
He pestered them ‘till he got in.
Joe had a lot of try.

He didn’t mind being in Iraq,
and I would have to wonder why.
except that I always knew,
Joe had an awful lot of try.

He knew he was doing some good,
that was it, the reason why.
He did what he had to do over there,
because Joe had a lot of try.

He knew his chances weren’t good,
he knew he could so easily die
But he figured he was needed there.
My grandson had a lot of try.

© 2007, Willard Hollopeter
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



2011 Update

Texas singer and songwriter Jean Prescott's 2011 album, America—Home Sweet Home, includes a song co-written with South Dakota poet Yvonne Hollenbeck that honors the memory of Josiah Hollopeter. Here is Yvonne Hollenbeck's poem and the moving story of her inspiration for the poem that became "Song for Josiah":

Song for Josiah

In the Sandhills of Nebraska was the first one
A flag on a great big bale of hay
And, I wondered just what that flag was there for
But, I would see many more that day
I took a break from driving for some coffee
And stopped in at the local town café
Out of curiosity I asked the waitress
Just why all those flags were flying that day

She said, “We’re flying those flags for Josiah
After all it is the least that we can do
To show our respect for his service
Defending our red, white and blue

He grew up living right here in the Sand Hills
And proudly answered the Nation’s call
He cherished the freedom of our country
To prove it he gladly gave his all

So, we’re flying those flags for Josiah
After all it is the least that we can do
To show our respect for his service
Defending our red, white and blue
Now, they’re bringing him back home to stay

I pondered those tearful words she told me
As I continued traveling on my way
I’ll show them all we never will forget them
I’ll fly a flag on our ranch every day

For those who have sacrificed so much for us
To let them know just how much we care
It’s a symbol of how we love our freedom
In the stars and stripes high up in the air

Let’s all fly a flag for Josiah
And for all of our country’s veterans, too
They’ve all paid a price for our freedom
After all, it’s the least we can do
Yes, they’ve all paid a price for our freedom
Defending the red, white and blue
After all, it is the least that we can do

© 2008, Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Yvonne tells about her inspiration for "Song for Josiah":

It was a two-fold situation.

I knew Josiah had been killed in Iraq as our horse-breaking hired hand, Tyrel Licking, was a cousin to Josiah and had received the call from his mother while eating supper at our table. At the time, they did not know when Josiah's body was going to be brought home, or funeral arrangements, or anything.

That following week, I had to go to Omaha regarding my brain tumor situation. From my appointments in Omaha, I was heading clear across the state of Nebraska (400+ miles) to Gordon to stay a couple days with my mother who was not well. While driving across Highway 20 intersecting the vast Sandhills, I started noticing flags everywhere; in hay bales, on ranch signs, even on windmills—literally everywhere. It looked strange to see them in such wide open spaces where the you usually only see cattle and wildlife.

I stopped at a little village of Wood Lake to use the restroom at a roadside cafe and get another cup of coffee (Wood Lake is about 25 miles East of Valentine). While there I asked the waitress why all the flags were flying everywhere and she teared up and said, "They're bringing Josiah home today." I wrote the poem en route on to Gordon.

Valentine was literally solid flags as I went through and someone had made a huge heart out of flags on the front parking area of Valentine Feed Service, a business run by Josiah's father, Kenny.

The second thing that came out of all of this was the fact that I had just been told my brain tumor had returned and they were scheduling me for an upcoming gamma-knife surgery. So between that and my parents' situation, I had been having a royal pity-party. Seeing those flags and learning the reason they were flying put my life in perspective and I no longer was feeling sorry for myself.

It sure gave me something else to think about and the poem was the result.



Willard Hollopeter is one of the founders and organizers of Valentine, Nebraska's Old West Days. Read some of his poetry and more about him here.


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See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.






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