STITCHING FOR OUR VETERANS: QUILTS OF VALOR
This will be a special Veteran's Day-11/11/11. It was on this the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that WW I, the war to end all wars, came to an end. When legislation was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day"' to honor the WW I veterans. After the Korean War the name was changed to "Veteran's Day" to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation offers a great opportunity for people to come together to honor returning military personnel. Its mission is to "cover ALL combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor." Each quilt has a label identifying it as a Quilt of Valor and information on where it was made, the name of the quilt and the names of the top maker and quilter. The makers are encouraged to write a letter to the unknown recipient describing their thoughts and feelings as they went through the process of making the quilt. The letters are tucked into a pocket in the quilt another tie to bind maker and recipient.
The VA Northern Indiana Health Care System's Seamless Transition Program is proud to join the Quilts of Valor Foundation in their effort to ensure our local veterans receive a Quilt of Valor.
Last week, I attended their quarterly Quilt of Valor presentation ceremony. Entering the auditorium one's gaze is immediately drawn to the carefully laid out quilts. So many beautiful colors and designs reflect the care and reverence of their makers.
The ceremony is brief, a welcome by Laymon Shepherd, program support assistant, the invocation by Chaplain Robert Mortensen followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Guest speaker Acting Associate Director Steve Clarke gives a brief history of the Quilts of Valor Foundation and notes 57,000 quilts have been presented to date 490 have been awarded locally.
It is now time for the returning vets to be called up to choose a quilt. Jarred Sawyer of Van Wert, Ohio, accompanied by his wife and young daughter make the selection process a family affair. Next up is MSgt Cheryl Williams, Fort Wayne, who served 23 years in the Air Force. She picks one with a Chinese flair for herself, and for her son, who could not be present, a patriotic red-white-blue theme Quilt of Valor. At 36-years-old, half his life has been spent proudly serving his country. Every recipient and their family and guests are photographed with Acting Director Clarke with the chosen quilt prominently displayed. A benediction by Chaplain Mortenson brings the program to a close.
In another article I will share with you how this program inspires and impacts both the makers and the recipients of the quilts.
To learn more about the Quilts of Valor Foundation go to http://qovf.org. From there it will direct you to how to request a quilt to regional coordinators to the process of making the quilts to how to prep for talk shows. You don't have to be a quilter to help. People are needed to cut, piece and sandwich. Monetary donations are greatly appreciated to defray the costs of materials and shipping.
I want to thank the wonderful staff at the Fort Wayne VA for inviting me to the QoV presentation and to all veterans an enormous "THANK YOU!" for your service to our nation. We are indebted to you.
Lois Eubank owns Born Again Quilts-a restoration studio located at 124 W. Wayne St, Ste. 209, Fort Wayne. You may contact her at 515-9446.