May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: In Honor and in Deed

Memorial Day in the U.S. is a federal holiday, formerly known as "Decoration Day" a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. We set out flags and flowers, we visit cemeteries, and we remember all of those who served our country.

The Memory Quilt that I made my father, Bernhart (Ben Savikko) in 2008. My father was a member of a Five Star Family.  My Grandparents, Herman and Elli Savikko, of Douglas, Alaska were pioneer Alaskans. My grandfather learned English as quickly as he could once his ship docked at Ellis Island and was a court translator both there, and in Juneau when he finally arrived in Alaska.

He worked in the Treadwell Gold Mine on my childhood home island of Douglas,  as well as being a Finnish 'Finish' Carpenter who supposedly made outstanding beautiful hand carved railings and such. No photos exist from that era of his work but he supposedly also painted a mural in the Juneau courthouse at one time. I come from a long line of artisans and creators.

My Alaskan grandparents had 11 children, two dying of childhood diseases or accidents, but 2 daughters and 7 sons surviving to adulthood. They were taught to hunt and to fish, for sustenance and my grandmother grew a large garden even with little sunshine for potatoes and root vegetables.

The Savikko family was one of the few families in Territorial Alaska that had 5 sons all serve in the Armed Services during the same war.

Hence, the honor of being known as a "Five Star Family" and officially recognized by the United States Government for this honor, as well as sacrifice.

 Read my previous post on the history of this day in:

Memorial Day: In History, Memory, Quilting, and Deed

My father served as a Warrant Officer on a ship in the Aleutian Islands. He and his fellow officers patrolled the frozen waters off Alaska and transported goods to different bases. He served with great pride and sees it as an important chapter in his life. My dad is one the right in this photo, an uncle on the left, a friend from Douglas in the center.

Mydad met and married his Louisianan pen pal, my Cajun French mother, Nell Grace Pelletier (Peltier),  near the end of the war, by traveling the more than five thousand miles, by car, to meet her, fall in love, and marry her. The whole decade of the 1940's changed his life in many ways, forever. It set a course in destiny for him and for our family, than cannot be over emphasized.

The memory quilt that I made for my dad in 2008 was a WWII  patriotic one, very simply designed, bold but with softened colors ,and with large photo transfers of himself, his family and my mother. The photos are super sized because my mother was legally blind for the last 10 years of her life and could only see things when they are enlarged with high contrast, and then with a magnifying glass for the details. Several of the photos are of her, as WWII was when they first met, fell in love, and got married.

I used a variation I worked out from the idea of a 'Turning Twenty' pattern. Instead of 20 blocks, I used a repeating pattern of nine (wasn't up to piecing 90!) But they are turned and twisted to be an original version. The turning and the twisting is symbolic, I think, of conflict of any kind, but especially conflict that leads to change. Life and death are major aspects of such change, but in a way birthdays are as well, so this quilt was a birthday gift a few years before he passed away.

                                                                Early Douglas, Alaska

 *** In Memory ***

My father, Bernhart, and my uncles, Albert, Robert, Herbert, and  Elmer Savikko, of Douglas, Alaska, are all gone now. I know my own loss of my father and my uncles. But just imagine their mother and father's loss of their son, Albert, during WWII, at only 21 years of age.

Five sons went to war, but only four sons were to return. They lived with worry when all five boys were away, but when that fate filled telegraph was received and delivered by hand at their doortstep that one son, was lost at sea and presumed drowned..well, I can only imagine...

  *** In Memory ***

My youngest uncle, Albert, died during battle in the Pacific Theater (meaning during WWII in that area of the world). He was the co-captain of a plane that was shot down at sea. His captain was so severely injured that my Uncle Albert, though himself wounded,  took control of the plane and safely
landed it in the Pacific Ocean, saving the lives of the crew who survived and were later rescued. Albert H. Savikko died at 21 years of age.

   *** In Memory ***

My Uncle  Robert (Bobby) Savikko , of Douglas, Alaska,  survived the war as did the other 3 brothers, but then died in 1972, drowned while returning from a moose hunting trip to Taku Harbor. He and another young man were in one boat leaving earlier than my father and others in another boat.
When my father's boat returned to Douglas, it was to learn that my uncle Bobby, and their young hunting companion had most likely taken on water with so much moose meat on board, during ocean swells, and drowned.

20 years later, a beach comber walking our beloved Sandy Beach on Savikko Park, named in honor of my uncle Robert Savikko, discovered his wallet. Washed ashore with ID intact, they contacted the local authorities who returned it decades later to my Aunt and their 3 children who lost their father as young teens. I had only been married a few months, with my aunt and uncle at the wedding, in Alaska, and their young daughter, my 11 year old cousin as one of my bridesmaids. Oh, my uncle Bobby was so very proud to see her walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid. He died just a few months later, another uncle lost as sea. This uncle was a talented artist, commercially fished with my dad and their brothers, and worked for a freight company the rest of the time. He was a smart, funny, witty, caring man and I miss him, still.

*** In Memory ***

My Father Ben, with his brother Hjalmer Savikko during WWII

My Uncle Hjalmer visited our home in Douglas from his home in North Douglas (now called West Juneau which is very silly to me as it is on Douglas Island just north of Douglas!) every single weekend, bring us fresh fish as he was a life long commercial fisherman. He never had children of his own but loved all of his brother's children, as if they were his own. I miss him, still, along with my father and all of my uncles, now all long gone.That is Hjal on the right, my father on the left, and below, my grandparents with my dad and another uncle, Elmer..below.  That is their first home on Douglas Island behind them.

*** In Memory ***

***And in Deed***

I made the quilt above for my Uncle Elmer, a veteran from WW II, who died in 2011.  
He loved it dearly and it passed on to his care home in Ashland, Oregon.

My Uncle Elmer had a photographic memory and a genius level IQ . He tested so high in military testing that he began as one of the famous code breakers, but the stresses of war took his toll, then, and later on.  He finished his military career as a radio man, rather than code interpreter, feeling less responsible for the lives of those he indirectly served.

He received an engineering degree and worked as one for many decades. A brilliant man, and deeply religious, he loved the quilt I made him with the praying soldier.  He ended up being diagnosed with dementia about three years before he died. He spent the past three years of his life in a series of 'Memory Care' nursing homes.

Now, his memories.... and our memories of him..... must live on through us, since he had no children of his own. His wife was diagnosed with schizophrenic a year and a half after they were married. He spent the rest of his life taking care of her, as challenging at it was, by himself at home, while still working at his own engineering firm from home.

I am grateful I was able to make many photo albums for him these past years and a quilt that he was able to enjoy before his passing. I am even more grateful for the many visits to my home, and countless number of phone calls we shared, a few precious last visits he had with me, my mom and dad here in my home in Oregon, and a bond that will last past time.

One quilt for Uncle Elmer, three more made in honor of my uncles and given to the V.A. hospital among the many dozen that I have made and given away with patriotic themes.

My father mourned the losses of all 4 of his brothers, before he passed away in August of 2010. I felt blessed to have visited my mom and dad just one short month before. You never know when your visit might be the last. Five quilts made to honor five men. All five quilts given in their honor to charitable causes. 

Inheriting my father's WWII memory quilt to bring back to my own home after my dad's passing. As well as several of my heartstrings quilts. 

And I almost always take a few hours during this weekend, to work on patriotic quilts, utility bags for use in our veteran's hospital by bedsides or on wheelchairs, , neck rolls for positioning them in their beds, and sometimes a red or gold star flag for families who have served and families who have lost a loved one.

I have given away 3 dozen patriotic quilts since 2008, and many pillows, and dozens of patriotic bags.

In memory and in deed, and in honor of our soldiers (both at home and abroad) our ever-present patriotism and in the spirit of good work and service that so many do in our country..... here's my collection of  links to free quilt or quilt block patterns. In includes some that are traditional, some that date back to the Civil War, and some amazing and wonderful stars, stripes, flags and even service banners, such as the blue star flag that I made, below.

In Honor and Memory: Quilts Made to Remember a Veteran Who Has Passed Away, one above, one below.

A simple but meaningful heartstrings quilt pattern brought in honor and memory to a funeral for my son-in-law's grandfather.

I've been making and donating a variety of patriotic themed quilts, bags, banners, hot pads, table name military bases, local veteran's centers, veteran homes and hospice care centers and to families' that could just use a patriotic pick me up! Above, even a couple of simple potholders make wonderful thank you gifts during this Memorial Day weekend.

Many of my quilts are simple 'make as you go' designs where I use purchased center medallions or string quilting techniques to create my one of a kind patriotic quilts. But my blog posts are filled with photos of my process and will most certainly help you be inspired with ideas of your own.

I also collect patriotic sewing and quilting links from around the world wide web and these are bookmarked and shared below with my readers!



Free Patriotic, Sewing and Quilting Patterns, Tutorials and Links:

(Note: McCalls Quick Quilts is now requiring a free sign-up to access their free patters etc. So, if you get an error reading page...that's what that means. Sign up on the right of that screen for free viewing and printing privileges!)

Free Patriotic Quilt Patterns:

Free Union & Confederate Soldier's Patriotic Quilt Pattern
Soldier's Patriotic

Union Eagle Quilt

Gunboat Quilts...applique motif ideas like above

Pomegranate (Marriage )Quilt

Flags & Heart

McCalls now requires a sign in to download next 16 patterns below but there is no fee:

54-40 or Fight
Independence Day "
A Nation's Pride "
Midnight Stars"
American Classic "
Shining Through
Bear's Paw
Stars & Stripes Forever
Born in the USA
Summer Spirit
Celebration 2000
True Colors

Sweet Land of Liberty by Marcie Patch
her free patterns including this American Eagle

Sweet Liberty Table Runner
The finished quilt top measures 21” by 42”
Made by Julie from The Intrepid Thread
printable PDF version

Land of Liberty star15" x 20" pieced quilt project from Debbie Mumm

Liberate! block from Quilter's Cache

Liberty Star Basket

Patriotic Star string quilted star pattern from Maryquilts

Party Hats

Indian Trail

Northumberland Star

Royalty...the 911 block

Ohio Star

Spiderweb Star

Patriotic mini quilt: a free pattern for an 1890's reproduction by Patricia Cummings

In The Line of Duty (no longer links if you have one to this, please let me know!)

Shuttle (In Memory of the Columbia) Pattern

American American Flag patterns flying horizontal, vertical, or waving!

Star in a Wall Hanging

Compuquilts: free patriotic blocks and quilt patterns as below:

The Crazy Star Flag

The 4th Star Flag Block and Quilt

Sapphire Stars Quilt (3 sizes)

Scottish Stars Quilt (39" Square) by Joy Hoffman

From Darlene Zimmerman:

Stardance Quilt (52.5" x 61.5")

GalaImage of Galaxy of Stars Quiltxy of Stars Quilt
39" x 29"

Thumbnail image of free quilt pattern: Star in a Wall Hanging

Thumbnail image of free quilt pattern: Stars All Around Tree Skirt

52" Diameter
Thumbnail image of free quilt pattern: Old Fashioned Stars Quilt

61" x 82"

Shooting Stars

Ribbons to make in Red, White and Blue, Pink, and Yellow

Directions For Making a Blue or Gold Star Service Banner

Armed Services Flag for families with a member in active duty at this time! Fly proudly in your window!!!

3" x 6" US Ribbon Block

US Ribbon Block

Quilt, below
Amerihearts at Home

A nation's pride...'stained glass look quilt block pattern'

US "We Support" Ribbon wall hanging

Americana Flag

Navy Star
Army Star

Patriotic Block Patterns:
"A Dandy"...You will need six of these blocks!

"Log Cabin" ... You will need two of these blocks!

" Pieced Star" ... You will need two of these blocks!

"Starflower"... You will need eight of these blocks!

Finished Size: 15" x 33"
Moda Marbles Stars Tablerunner™

Nantucket Knots Free Table Warmer Quilt Pattern Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here
Four Flags Quilt Block from Better Homes and Gardens Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

July Flag from : Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Rainbow Stars from Better Homes & Gardens: Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Stars & Stripes from Benartex: Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Union Star from Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Veteran's Pride from Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Free pattern, click here.
Susan K. Cleveland prairie points tool flag

Pat Sloan's Patriotics: See all her free patterns!including these amazing beauties!
Liberty Heart


Liberty Stars made with her Sweet Liberty Fabric line
CLICK HERE to Download the pattern

Sweet Liberty fabric and her free Stars and Stripes pattern:

CLICK HERE to Download the pattern

Patriotic Heartstrings of Memory idea made by Michele Bilyeu "With Heart and Hands":

see:String Quilting:Tutorial and Free Patterns

Patriotic Checkers from Bernina and Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Blue or Gold Star Service Banner

Patriotic Miniature Quilt

US"We Support" Ribbon wall hanging

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as all patterns, posts, and memories, are updated here.

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

1 comment:

cher said...

great post Michele ! it shows so much of your wonderful quilts and a great family history/story...thanks for sharing