Monday, November 10, 2008

Veteran's Day Quilting


Before I headed up to Alaska in late August, I made this quilt, with my last remaining uncle in mind, and in honor of those who served in the Armed Forces in World War II.

My intention was to send it to a nursing home in Medford, Oregon where my Uncle Elmer was placed after a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress/Dementia.

This uncle, like my father, was one of five brothers who all served in World War II at the same time. They were known as a 'Five Star Family' signifying five sons all served in the Armed Forces at one time. And my Finnish Alaskan Grandparents were so recognized and honored by the United States Government (after the end of the war) with a medal and a decorative certificate.

My Uncle Albert was the co-pilot of a plane that was shot down during the war. The pilot was shot and killed and my uncle (also injured) had to take over the controls of the plane and make a forced landing in the water. He died of his wounds on impact, but saved the lives of the other remaining men on board.

There are many stories like this one, from that war and all others. My family's loss was no greater than that of many families, and like in many families, some suffer lifelong physical ailments and others....lifelong mental, or emotional ones.

In honor of those men who lived, yet suffered the stresses of war, loss, and a level of emotional pain that most of us will never understand, I made this quilt for this last living uncle...... now in this Oregon nursing home.

My Uncle Elmer has an incredibally high IQ and a photographic memory, and and thus he carries a lot of difficult memories and life experiences and their challenges. This quilt honors him, symbolically holds him, and wraps him up away from his losses, and is meant to remind him that faith can still bring inner peace......beyond loss and pain.

I was only home in Salem for a few weeks after returning from over a month in Alaska, before I was called back to help my parents in Alaska again. But I managed to finish the binding on this quilt, and sew on a label during that brief period of rest. It won't make my intended Veteran's Day gift deadline. But when I am home again, I will wrap it, and mail it to the Alzheimer's foster nursing home in southern Oregon for him. I hope that its warmth, and the love that created it will bring him peace and someday, it can go on to hang on a wall there for all, in memory of my Uncle Elmer.

Today, our American holiday of Veteran's Day, honors all Veterans of all wars. I honor them in thought and in memory, and soon... I hope to honor them with this Heartstrings Quilting Project patriotic quilt, as well.

4 comments:

  1. What a loving tribute... now or later, your gift will be appreciated by many.

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  2. It looks wonderful! There are a bunch of us working on HeartStrings quilts for wounded soldiers and veterans today...how appropriate.

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  3. I am sure your uncle will really appreciate the quilt - as will all the others in the nursing home.

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  4. Hi Michele, What a gorgeous quilt! I am sorry for the loss in your family, But you are so lucky to have had the time you did and the stories shared! Treasure that!!

    Thanks for sharing the history behind the Memorial Day and also this tribute!

    Have a great day

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.