Jan 19, 2015

Liberated Stars and Stripes

Patriotic quilts have always been near and dear to my heart...and I can't really even explain why. I don't have a family member in the military, I am decidedly 'anti-war' but I support, wholeheartedly, our young men and women in the military. It may have been their choices to join,with full knowledge of potential outcomes, but nevertheless, many of them are suffering terrible consequences as a result of that choice. We must still support their courage, their sense of honor and their loyalty to their country and to their fellow soldiers.

I watched "To Iraq and Back: The Bob Woodruff Story" on ABC and was so touched by the story of this network anchor/journalist being severely wounded while on assignment in Iraq. He has made an amazing, even miraculous recovery as a result of not only the dedication of his nurses and doctors, but the wonderful and loving support of his wife, Lee and their four young children.

Bob Woodruff is now dedicating his life to helping others with severe head trauma as a result of war injuries and profiling their stories and the problems they have faced during their recovery. What was also deeply touching was to see Lee clutching a small patriotic quilt of valor from the Wounded Warrior project...a quilt that was placed on Bob as he was loaded into the army transport helicopter that brought him from the hospital in Germany back to Bethesda, Maryland for further treatment. That quilt, she was told, was given to all those wounded in the war and would be with him, when she could not, on the plane ride home. She carries it and all that it meant to her, still. I have seen it on several newscasts and interviews.

I looked at that simple little quilt, and it just filled up my heart. It was the "heartstring" between Lee and her husband, Bob as the miles spanned between them until she could rejoin him at Army Reed Medical Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. It was a lovely and a beautiful thing to feel the depths of the love that one little quilt carried...from whatever quilter created it, to Bob, to Lee and to all whose lives they now touch with their story.

I realized, truly realized, how the patriotic quilts that I have pieced...25 since that first September and into that next year...and more in progress each year after...that have gone out in similar situations and knowing that they just might have touched other's hearts this way, renewed my own dedication and resolve to continue quilting my little "patriotic heartstrings of valor"here in Salem, Oregon.

There are many programs where you can donate patriotic "quilts of valor". If you want to contribute them locally, it is as simple as contacting your local Veteran's Association and asking if they have someone who visits a nearby Armed Services Hospital that could bring patriotic quilts up with them on their next visit. They almost all have programs in place to accept quilts. They prefer ones in reds, whites and blues, simply because it is more symbolic and meaningful to the wounded soldiers,and those with a patriotic theme or fabrics in them touch deeply, but they don't have to be complicated works of art.

Liberated string quilting is one of the easiest and quickest ways to create a lap quilt in the 36"x 36" to 45"x 45" range. Mary's site "The Heartstrings Quilting Project" site, whose links is on my sidebar, shows examples of string quilts and gives some great links to start you out. Check out the reference there to Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville who is the queen of string quilting.

String quilting is easy, it's an enormous amount of fun and best of all...it takes very little time to make a quilt, especially a small patriotic lap quilt. Here in Salem, Oregon we have sent ours with a Brigadier General's daughter to Madigan Hospital in Fort Lewis,in the state of Washington. But the last 15 of our community quilting group's patriotic quilts, were donated to our local Veteran's Outreach Center. We wanted to honor of a quilter's husband who had just passed away.

Whatever, we do, however we do it, I know that hearts are being touched and love is being sent...in every stitch, every block, and every quilt. I have always felt heartstrings between myself and those that I care about...now, I can see them too!!!

Patriotic Heartstrings is a frequency holding blog. For my dynamic on-going blog which is updated on a consistent basis, and many articles on patriotic quilting, making blue star and gold star banners, on creating projects for veteran's centers etc., please check out my on-going posts at:

With Heart and Hands: A Quilting Journey: http://with-heart-and-hands.blogspot.com/

Please check my list of over 2,500 free quilt patterns by clicking on icon to the right! And find the section titled "Patriotic Patterns."

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey from Alaska to Oregon with thousands of free Quilting, Sewing, and Crafting Patterns and Tutorials. Help change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

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