Red, white and blue, bald eagles, fireworks and plenty of stars and stripes lit up the garden mall at Fairwood Retirement Center last week.
Members of Fairwood’s Quilt and Sew group had gathered to show off their latest projects – 10 Quilts of Valor that will be awarded Friday to World War II veterans currently residing at Fairwood.
“We made eight of the 10,” said group leader, Mogie Sabine. “We’ve actually made more than that and given them to the Greater Spokane Quilts of Valor organization.”
The women gather to quilt twice a month at Sabine’s apartment, and as they quilted she thought of the few remaining World War II veterans living at Fairwood.
“We should make quilts for them,” she said. And the project, which took eight months to complete, was born.
The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is “to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”
Each quilt has a label affixed which includes the veteran’s name, the date of the presentation, and the names of each person who helped make it.
Sabine pointed to a small strip of star-spangled fabric within one of the quilts.
“We try to use every scrap of fabric people donate,” she said.
As quilters Judy McCorkle and Joan Nelson helped lay out a quilt, McCorkle pointed to a square, “One of the pieces is a bit different,” she said.
Nelson nudged her, laughing, “Shhh,” she said. “You’re not supposed to tell.”
Most of the women have family members who served in the war which made working on these quilts especially meaningful.
“I thought of my father while I made this quilt,” said McCorkle.
Nelson thought of her family members, too.
“My dad was in World War II and Korea,” she said. “My husband served in Vietnam and my son recently retired as a Marine Corps pilot.”
Peggy Jones said, “I had three brothers in World War II. My 95-year-old brother still talks about the war, what he saw. Maybe he’s still there.”
For them, each stitch is a way to say thank you.
As Sabine talked to the Fairwood veterans who will receive these Quilts of Valor, many were reticent.
“A lot of them said, ‘I didn’t do that much,’ ” she recalled. “One of them said, ‘I didn’t even get shot at.’ ”
But these quilts are not meant for only those who have seen combat.They’re meant to honor every person who has served their country in the Armed Forces.
The 10 recipients of Quilts of Valor at Friday’s presentation will be:
Roger Patrow, who served as a driver in Korea in the aftermath of the war.
Eldon Pattee, who served as a motor mechanic in Panama.
Donald Nepean, a canine military policeman who guarded nuclear sites in New Mexico and at Hanford.
Willard Beck, who spent time in the Pacific theater on Guam and Pearl Harbor among other places.
Jack Paxton, who enlisted May 27, 1940, and was a radioman in the Pacific.
Ralph Prouty, who served in WWII and later in Korea and Vietnam.
Howard Schlieman, an aviation electronic technician who flew in the second seat on aircraft being checked out for battle to ensure the electronics were working.
Glen Ellison, mechanical engineer who served aboard the USS Mobile.
Grant Carlson, a gunner’s mate who trained at Farragut Naval Training Station before going overseas.
And B-17 pilot Louis Anderson, who flew 36 missions in the European theater.
Friday’s ceremony is the first of several planned by the Fairwood quilters. Sabine and her group want to recognize the approximately 40 Korean War veterans who live at Fairwood.
“It’s important to continue to honor, not only our World War II vets, but all of our veterans,” she said. “They need to be thanked for their service.”
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