Feb 11, 2007

Patriotic Quilting: Celebrating Life, Sharing Loss

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the funeral of one of our quilting group member's husband. While it was a celebration of a life well spent and a man greatly loved by a family of deep faith, it was also a reminder of our mortality, and of the losses that each of us face. When I first read the notice in the newspaper and saw the line where it asked that donations be made to the local Veterans' Association, I knew immediately where our stock of patriotic quilts needed to go. Our little chairful of patriotic quilts found its way to a table of remembrance for this dear man, and for the challenges he faced and the battles that he, himself, had fought in this lifetime. It was a tribute to him, out of respect for his family and a way for us, as members of the community's larger family to honor his passing.

Sometimes, as community quilters, we get so busy quilting that we don't move our quilts out as fast as we could. Or we forget the deeper meaning and intent of their creation. So, while we have a brigadeer general's daughter that will bring our quilts up to Fort Madigan Hospital in Fort Lewis, Washington with one phone call, we don't often think to call her or other contact's until our stack of quilts is overtaking our stacks of quilts in progress.

So, here sat 14 lovely patriotic 'quilts of valor' in all of their varying shades of reds, whites, and blues, just waiting for their special occasion to come out into their moment of celebration and of sharing in memory of another loss. Each quilt tied by a heartstring to each quilter, each heartstring spreading out into the broader community and deeper sense of family

When we quilt our patriotic quilts we are usually creating them around the vision of one of American's fallen soldiers...a man or a woman who has fought in either Iraq or Afganistan and been wounded and awarded a purple heart for courage. So we forget, sometimes, our other veterans...good men and women who fought other wars in other times, each with the same dedication, the same courage, the same patriotic love of country or need to do good for that country. We forget that others served as well, and still need to be remembered for that service.

As one was added later, we ended up sending 15 quilts off 15 quilts to the Veterans' Outreach Center, here in Salem, Oregon. We salute and we honor the courage of all of our soldiers. And we think of you today, and all days...not just Veteran's Day, or Memorial Day, or President's Day or any other American holiday. We think of what courage, and valor, and dedication truly mean. And we share in celebrating your achievements and sorrowing with you over your losses.


Shelina said...

Your quilting community contributes so much to veterans . I think that it was meant to be that you had a stack of quilts ready to give to them, in honor of veterans from other wars and other times.

Michele Bilyeu said...

I agree with you totally, Shelina...that is just how it works! Thanks for your awareness!

Finn said...

Hello again, so happy to find a new posting..*VBS* I've stopped back a couple of times, but on your busy days, I suspect..*S* What a lovely inspiration to get the quilts to the memorial service. I'm curious as to where they went from there? Were they for family members or others veterns who attended?
Your thoughts on the subject are beautiful. In today's fast paced world we seem to forget all about what isn't of personal importance. How sad. I've seen it happen locally when our young people don't know that they are suppose to stand for the passing of the American Flag in a parade. And how many of their parents don't treat our flag with respect.
They quilts look beautiful. Hugs, Finn