On Veteran’s Day last week, AccuQuilt was honored to host a group of veterans, Judy Fletcher of the Quilts of Valor Foundation (Omaha Chapter), Mary Hanke from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and many others.
Because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, five veterans who served in Vietnam received a special certificate, lapel pens commemorating the war, and other items from the Department of Defense (DOD) honoring them for their service. DAR is part of the DOD’s Commemorative Partner Program; therefore, Hanke was there to present these items to each veteran on their behalf. In addition to honoring these five Vietnam veterans, two World War II veterans also received honorable mentions as well as certificates for their service.
Additionally, the Girl Scouts were on hand to present a special quilt they made for veteran Clinton Huey who has served multiple tours in Iraq. Meeting in the AccuQuilt Dream Studio for weeks, each Scout made one block for the quilt top using our fabric cutters and dies. This Girl Scout troop is part of the Under Our Wings (UOW) program, which not only teaches people how to sew and make quilts for Quilts of Valor, but it also helps to encourage a love of quilting and service.
Marianne Fons, a board member from the National Quilts of Valor Chapter, previously implemented an UOW program successfully. Inspired by Fons, a collaborative effort between Nichole Arth (AccuQuilt team member and Girl Scout Troop Leader), Lori Bain (Omaha Modern Quilt Guild), and Judy Fletcher (Omaha Chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation) began. They knew this would be a great project for the Girl Scouts to do and be of tremendous service.
While waiting for the presentation to begin, the attendees were able to tour our offices and view the Quilts of Valor exhibit in the AccuQuilt Gallery as well as see where creativity happens in the Dream Studio. They were also able to mingle with AccuQuilt Chief Energizing Officer Steve Nabity, President Greg Gaggini, and fellow veterans for a while before being seated.
After the presentation, all of the veterans were presented with their own special Quilts of Valor. The Girl Scouts, with assistance from the foundation members, helped to cover each veteran with their quilt and gave them a nice handshake while thanking them for their service. When the Girl Scouts presented the quilt they made to Huey, the beautiful moment was met with much applause, especially when one Scout decided to throw in a hug. The veterans gladly accepted their quilts, and they were then awarded a certificate in recognition for their service.
Quilts of Valor Foundation was founded by Catherine Roberts, a retiree from the healthcare field, in 2003 when her oldest son was deployed to Iraq. Roberts had a vision of a post-deployed warrior struggling with his war demons in the wee hours. He was sitting on the side of his bed wrapped in a quilt, which not only comforted him but also warded off his war demons. Since that initial vision, a quilting partnership ensued between piecers and quilters and eventually quilts were being awarded to wounded warriors via the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover all military service members and veterans who have been touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Many quilters volunteer their time every year to serve, honor, and comfort our veterans with something they will cherish forever. The tradition of covering our soldiers with quilts can be dated back to the American Civil War when soldiers departing for war were given homemade quilts containing pieces of their loved ones clothing in hopes that the quilts would provide them much comfort during those times of distress.
According to the Quilts of Valor Foundation’s website, 128,694 quilts have been awarded to service men and women thus far.
Below is a list of veterans honored at the event, including female veteran Kimberly Hinnenkamp. Representing more than 14 percent of active duty military personnel, women have served in the military since the American Revolutionary War (late 1700s) in a variety of roles and now make up 20 percent of new recruits.
Bob Reisser – World War II Veteran
Robert Rees – World War II Veteran
Bill Caster – Vietnam Veteran
Charles Viola – Vietnam Veteran
Curtis Morrell – Vietnam Veteran
Gary Fitch – Vietnam Veteran
Wayne Grulke – Vietnam Veteran
We’d like to thank all of our veterans for their service in addition to the ones who came to the presentation at AccuQuilt. We hope their quilts provide them with much comfort and healing for years to come.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to the Quilts of Valor Foundation, see their website for more information.
See the presentation in its entirety below.