It isn’t Christmas, I know. It’s Memorial Day. But it was the day after Christmas in our family home, Stone Gables, when our friend Judy Purdy of the Quilts of Valor organization surprised our brother, Charles C. Knight (army veteran 1963-66) with his very own quilt of valor. Several family members–sister Suzanne Dover, sister-in-law Reggie Knight, and I–had enjoyed sewing squares for the quilt. Suzanne and Judy put it all together and quilted it with Charlie’s wife, Elaine, and daughter, Evelyn, involved in final touches. Most of us, along with other close family members, were there for the sweet, short ceremony by the Christmas tree.
Pictured above are, left to right: Brenda, Suzanne, Charlie, Judy, Evelyn, and Elaine holding grandson Joseph.
I was so proud of my brother as Judy wrapped him in his quilt and explained the symbolism of the quilt and its three layers. 1)The top of the quilt–with its many colors, shapes, and fabrics–represents the communities and the many individuals who make the quilts. 2)The batting, or the filler inside, is the center of the quilt and provides a quilt’s warmth. It represents our hope that this quilt will bring warmth, comfort, peace, and healing to the individual who receives it. 3)The backing of the quilt represents the strength that supports the other layers. We think of it as the strength of the recipient, the support of his or her family, our communities, and our nation. The stitches that hold the three layers together represent love, gratitude, and sometimes tears of the maker.
A word about my veteran brother: After finishing basic training at Fort Gordon, Charlie went to Fort Bliss, Texas, for a year’s training in anti-aircraft technology. He was then stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany where he worked for the “Hawk” missile battalion. This was a new missile which, contrary to those used in World War II, was able to hone in or lock on an aircraft and follow it. Charlie has always been so happy that he could serve his country in this way. But the best thing about his time of service was that he met his future wife, Elaine, during his tour of duty. Her father was also stationed at Fort Bliss and then at Wiesbaden, Germany. Our whole family has been blessed by these two who started married life in Alaska during the cold, dark part of the year 1969. They later settled in Clarkesville, Georgia, and now have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
Two years ago, before we started this quilt project, I’d never heard of Quilts of Valor. Since then, I’ve been so inspired by the work they are doing to honor our veterans. Maybe you, too, are not familiar with this great effort. Rather than try to tell you about it myself, I asked Judy Purdy to send me her description. I’d like to share parts of her article with you:
Founded in 2003 by “Blue Star” mother Catherine Roberts, Quilts of Valor is a national organization of volunteers from every state whose mission is to honor and cover service personnel and veterans touched by war or the threat of war with comforting and healing quilts. Volunteers make the quilts either as individuals or as part of a QOV group, and quilts are then presented to recognize the service, sacrifice, dedication, and valor of current and former members of all branches of the military. The organization’s volunteers have made and awarded many quilts in grateful appreciation of the personal sacrifice and honorable service of those who leave home and family to stand in harm’s way to preserve the freedoms we Americans enjoy.
On behalf of the Quilts of Valor Foundation and a grateful nation, and with our deepest appreciation, we present quilts to thank members of our military for their service. It is our hope that the quilts will be a tangible reminder that there are thousands of women and men across this land who are forever in the debt of these brave veterans serving in war and in peace. It is our pleasure to honor each one.
For more information or to nominate a current or former member of the US Military, please contact http://www.qovf.org.