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Local quilters blanket vets with gratitude


By Royal Smith

The Hoover-Bickel VFW Post 2689 hosted a Quilts of Valor Foundation Event on Saturday Nov. 5 in Huntington. The national foundation strives to honor military veterans for their service. Saturday’s program included 14 veterans; 10 present for the function, and four veterans that would receive their honorary quilt at a later date. Karen Sandlin and Lois Walling, members of the organization, opened the event by expressing their gratitude to all attendees. “I am happy to see everyone here today with the poor weather conditions we’re having. The wind and rain cancelled this morning’s scheduled veterans day parade in the area, however we are thankful this event could take place,” said Walling. She continued to explain the purpose for the event. “The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover the service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” Speaking to service members she said, “Your Quilt of Valor comes to you with a sincere thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country while serving in the United States Armed Forces.”

Walling then gave a brief history related to the foundation. The organization was established in 2003 by blue-star mother, Catherine Roberts, after her son was deployed to Iraq. Walling said, “Catherine had a dream. In Catherine’s words ‘I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over with his head in his hands….I could see his war demons, clustered around trying to drag him down to an emotional gutter. Then as if from a movie scene, I saw him wrapped in a quilt. His entire demeanor changed from one of hopelessness and despair, to one of hope and well being. The message was clear. Quilts equal healing.’ Currently, more than 255,000 quilts have been created and awarded to our service members and veterans globally,” said Walling. She went on to say that the quilts have been distributed through such organizations as the Walter Reed Hospital, Brook Army Medical Center, Veteran Association facilities and centers, and through personal contact like the event today. Karen Sandlin then recited the names of the seated veterans and asked them to stand as their names were read. While the recipients stood and their individual military accomplishments were noted, an appointed family member or friend, seated behind each honored service member, covered that member with their specific quilt.

The service members receiving the recognition were; Tim Black, Air Force and Army; David Dankenbring, Navy; Keith Hartley, Army National Guard; Charles Johnston, Army and Army National Guard; Tom Mortimore, Army and Air Guard; Kevin Shaffer, International Guard; Christopher Shortridge, Navy; Chad Wilson, Army; James Wright, Army National Guard; and LaVern Roth, Navy (WWII veteran). Service members and veterans that were unable to attend were honored and named as; Bob Rzasa Jr., George Eickhoff, Steven Cooley, and Doyle Beer.

Karen, again thanked the recipients and said, “On behalf of the Quilts of Valor Foundation and in recognition of your service to this nation and the United States Armed Forces, it is a privilege to honor you with this Quilt of Valor. Please accept this quilt in grateful thanksgiving for your service and sacrifice to the United States Military and in the events of our country.” The recipients, garbed in their quilts, were then saluted by surrounding attendees in honor of their service. Lois Walling expressed to the recipients, “As your Quilt of Valor was planned, cut out, sewn together, pressed, layered, and quilted our thoughts have all been focused on you and your service.” The Quilts of Valor were created by the Piece Makers Quilting Group, Melinda Taylor and Linda Raddenbach.