Friday, November 26, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Marine Corp Ball Speech 2010
West Palm Beach, FL
By: Cpl Blake M. Benson
First I would like to say thank you for letting me speak to you all tonight. This is by far one of the greatest honors ever in my life, Thank you!
Joining the Marine Corp has always been a dream of mine. This is thanks to my grandfather Sgt. Earl G. Piper United States Marine Corps. Shortly after the Korean War had ended, my Grandfather left the Marine Corps to work for Ford in Michigan where he retired. Even though my grandfather left the active fleet Marine Corps, he could never forget what they had taught him and continued to live his life with honor, courage and commitment. He would always be a Marine and uphold the values the come along with that title. This was my only experience with the Marine Corps throughout my childhood and it would have the greatest impact in my life still to this day. After joining the Marine Corps in his honor after his death I realized a lot of things that I had no clue about before.
The Marine Corps is not just an elite fighting force, it is a brotherhood based on tradition and loyalty to each other. Being a Marine is not something you can just turn on and off at will. It is who you are until the lord sees fit to bring you home. Being a Marine is representing more than just yourself but representing your country and every man and woman that is or has worn that Eagle Globe and Anchor. The Marine Corps is one place that everyone is equal no matter where you are from, your religion, ethnicity or your past. All of what makes you who you are before boot camp is slowly destroyed, so they can make you into the truly honorable people everyone sees today in these uniforms. As General Krulak once said, “For over 235 years our Corps has done two things for this great nation. We make Marines and we win battles.”
A great example of what the honorable General Krulak said can be seen with the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004. I had the honor to serve in this battle with some of the most amazing men I have ever met. Men like Sgt. Wells, Cpl. Marku, LCpl. Holmes, and LCpl. Lucero just to name a few, may God bless them all, lord knows how myself and the rest of my fellow marines miss them. During the Battle of Fallujah my battalion lost 23 marines and had even more wounded, but we still managed to move forward and win the worst battle ever seen by an American force in Iraq. I was in Fallujah with the battalion from November 8th (when the battle kicked off) until November 25th (Thanksgiving Day). I was forced out of the city on Thanksgiving Day due to injuries I received after I and four other marines were ambushed. Even after I left the city the battle continued well in to the month of December. As one marine that served with me once said, “If Fallujah is not hell then it’s the next worse place imaginable.” This rings true still to this day in my opinion.
After leaving Iraq and going to Bethesda National Naval Medical Center I experienced things that would fill me with pride and things that would give most people nightmares. Seeing Marines missing arms and legs truly brings a new point of view on life. With the fresh memories of Fallujah on my mind I could not help but to want to go back and finish the fight with my guys. Unfortunately this was not in the cards for me to do. This fact that I would not see my brothers again til they got home made life even harder on me. This is where I owe my thanks to organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project. This organization did everything they could to welcome the wounded home and made sure we didn’t need anything with the help of other organizations and private donors. This was all surprising to us Marines seeing as how the only news we heard while overseas was how everyone opposed the war and the military involved in it. To know that people actually care about you and what you have done really made things easier on us all. I would like to take a moment and thank the Wounded Warrior Project for everything. Please keep up the amazing work you all have done.
After about a year and a half in the hospital it was decided I could not stay in the Marine Corps and I was medically retired with an Honorable Discharge at this point. This was extremely hard for me to take. I fought with the Marine Corps every step of the way, I called Generals, I offered to change my MOS to a non combat job, I even offered to go reservist. Nothing worked in my favor, so I left the Marine Corps on June 28th 2006. Now I had no job and no idea what I wanted to do with my life. The one thing I wanted to be didn’t want me anymore, I was damaged goods. (cont. from Newsletter:) So after a year of fighting for benefits and working a dead end factory job I decided I wanted to go back to school (something I swore I would never do after barely getting through high school). While in school and seeing how my friends where being tormented from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), I figured out where I belong, and where I could do the most good for my brothers in arms. I was going to be a mental health professional. To explain how I came to this decision I will use a quote from General William Thornson US Army, “There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy, everyone else has a second hand opinion.” I full heartedly agree with General Thornson on this statement and feel as if I would be the best man for the job when it comes to helping them when they get home with the mental scars of war.
Though I have not quite met this goal yet I am making significant strides to getting where I want to be. I will have my BA in Psychology come December from Wayne State University and I will be starting graduate school at Nova come January. These are the first two steps to being able to make the impact I want and I will not rest until I have accomplished my goals.
But enough about me and what I want to do, this is our birthday and we still have brothers and sisters overseas fighting. Let’s not forget the sacrifices that young men and women are still giving as we speak. These men and women continue to win every battle, and continue to move this country towards victory over a desperate enemy. The marines have always led from the front and will continue to do so. As 2nd Lt. Richard C. Kennard once said, “My only answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far more guts, courage, and better officers… These boys out here have a pride in the Marine Corps and will fight to the end no matter what the cost.”
The Marine Corps has the richest and most noteworthy history out of any military in the world. We Marines have put fear in every enemy we have ever faced. Karen Aquilar once said while at the embassy in Somalia, “They told (us) to open up the Embassy, or “we’ll blow you away.” And then they looked up saw the Marines on the roof with these really big guns, and said in Somali “Igaralli ahow,” which means “Excuse me, I didn’t mean it, my mistake.”” This is just a small example of the legacy we have throughout the world. We have been called black boots by the Somalis, yellow legs by the communists in Korea, and Devil Dog by the Germans in World War One just to name a couple. As long as we keep making marines the world will always have something to fear. Rear Admiral Jay R. Stark said “Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat.” With this all being said Marines have always been the one thing every young man and woman have looked to be like.
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” President Reagan said this of the Corps. This stands true for all of us in this room. We have all raised our right hand and swore the oath to defend the Constitution, and that pride that comes from being the few can never be taken away from any of us. We are looked up to by everyone that has looked in from the outside. Presidents, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard officers, Congressmen, Senators, and the average Joe on the street have all been in awe of the Marine Corps. I have never been prouder of my Corps. We have made the changes but still maintain who we are. You look at other branches of the military and they have made compromises that have cost them their identities, the Marine Corps has not and never will.
In closing, I would just like to thank Gunny Rob McKenna and the Wounded Warrior Project one more time for making this possible, and I would like to say to the rest of you Semper Fidelis Marines and Happy Birthday!!! Thank you!
Submitted by Karen Fredrickson
Down Range, the words refer to those military men and women serving in a geographic area of conflict, a combat zone. I have asked three amazing women to write the Down Range columns the summer QOV newsletters. I hope that these columns will inform, educate, and personalize the experiences of military families.
It's so exciting to see Quilts of Valor highlighted today on the Norfolk/Virginia Beach ABC affiliate WVEC. Part one aired this morning and part two will air tomorrow on Veteran's Day when we meet Army Corporal Jonathan Bartlett who was the inspiration for the Tidewater Quilters Guild becoming involved with Quilts of Valor six years ago.
Jonathan received the very first Quilt of Valor and he's never known that we've been making quilts ever since. As of today the Tidewater Quilters Guild has sent 1,062 Quilts of Valor to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center ICU in Germany for presentation to America's most seriously battled wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Go to the link below to see the video filmed at my favorite quilt shop in Virginia Beach, What's Your Stitch 'n Stuff.
Enjoy and watch for tomorrow's report.
This is the Veteran's Day airing of the second part of the WVEC Quilts of Valor news story that aired yesterday. In this one you get to meet the recipient of the first Tidewater Quilters Guild Quilt of Valor, Corporal Jonathan Bartlett U.S. Army (Retired) of Chesapeake, VA.
Another timely topic is the fast-approaching holiday season. We'll have less time to work on QOV's, but the need for them doesn't take a holiday. Do you have red and white fabric left over from those Christmas placemats you're making that you can use for QOV's? Do you have any leftover blocks and cut pieces from earlier workshops? Can
you make a block or two while your cookies are baking? How about setting aside "Black Friday" as QOV Friday?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I have never made a request like this before; I am usually on the other end that sends quilts to fill a need.
I have a very short notice need/request. 100 QOVs by December 1st 2010. I just found out this morning.
I just learned of a group in my area that is made up of Veterans with PTSD, Traumatic brain injury, and some have cancer from exposure to chemical warfare. They are struggling with issues like "fitting back into normal life" many have night terrors and hyper sensitivity issues. Please help me cover this group of warriors suffering from these invisible wounds.
I have assured the director of this program that when there is a need the quilts will come.
They are having a banquet December 7th.
If you can help please contact me at Lori@QOVF.org , and I will give you the information of where to send the quilts.
Thank you for your dedication to our mission.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Yesterday I got up early and hit the ground running. I hustled and bustled to get all my chores done and make preparations because this was going to be a very special day! My friend Debby and I were invited to attend two Veteran’s Day Assemblies and present Quilts of Valor. How exciting is that??
Our first stop was Eastmont Junior High. It is a huge school with a very large student body. There was a lot of activity and noise in the Gym as the students gathered for the Assembly. The student Master of Ceremonies took the microphone and announced the Veterans Day assembly would begin with the presentation of the colors. A stillness fell over the room. The only sound was the click of the shoes and abrupt commands of the color guard. The choir sang the national anthem. All of the students were on their feet with hands on their hearts. It was really quite touching. A short history of Veteran’s Day was read. and then the program continued. Staff members with children serving in the Armed forces were recognized, then Veterans from the School District were acknowledged, and finally three staff members were called up. Debby and I were honored to present Quilts of Valor to these three teachers. The students listened intently to the QOV story and then gave thunderous applause as their teachers were handed thequilts. The closing ceremony was the retiring of the colors and taps. It was a wonderful experience.
Our second presentation was Cascade Elementary School. It was fun to watch to students assemble, sort of like herding puppies. When the Principal stepped to the microphone and told the purposed of the gathering and the expectations the room fell quiet. The students recited the pledge of allegiance, read little verses pertinent to the day and sang patriotic songs. Then a little boy stood with pride as he spoke of his daddy and of his service to our country. When he finished his tribute he introduced his Daddy. Debby and I helped him present his father with a Quilt of Valor and the son threw his arms around his Dad’s Neck. We were so blessed to be able to share in that moment.
As we celebrate Veteran’s Day let’s keep in mind the commitment, and personal sacrifices those serving and have served have made. May they always be treated with honor and respect and know they have our gratitude.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I left home, Anacortes WA for Seattle’s airport,SEATAC with plenty of time to spare. Usually I have to get up at 2AM to take the shuttle to arrive in time for all the necessary airport procedures. But this time, I drove...savoring the time in the car listening to the end of “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck. I was looking forward to going to Houston for the launching of a new line of fabrics for QOVF by nine, 9, nueve fabric companies plus the launch of a brilliant program created by Marianne Fons called Under Our Wings. Marianne was overseeing the birth of UOWs program/new fabric lines. I was there in a familiar setting...delivering babies but now from a national program vantage point.
We had people in Houston area, Cynthia Chaffee and the two Karens who were very helpful in getting the items of our School House Session in order...like getting 400 bottles of water and putting UOW labels on each bottle, 400 granola bars along with emails from Marianne and myself. In addition to the Houston team, we had the services of some of the Stitch N’ Stuff owner/staff...Holly Ebert-Zuber, Sue ???, Sandra ??? and Kim???. They were responsible for the design and set-up for the UOWs booth which included bringing tons of suitcases packed with props and a visit to the Houston Ikea shop.
Got in late to the hotel and then had a late nite meeting with all the participants for UOW and Schoolhouse session led by Marianne. After the meeting, went to Sue and Sandra’s room and saw the UOW cookies, totes, water bottles. Was blown away by all the ground work that had gone on and was still going on. Plan...to meet Kim at 730am to help put together a couple of Ikea table/desk stuff for booth.
I fell into my bed and slept like a baby.
Oct. 29 Booth Set-up plus 2 Schoolhouse SessionsThe morning came too early especially for someone from PST. I made my way to Starbucks Coffee at the George Brown Convention Center (GBCC) before they were open. Got a table and an outlet to plug my laptop in. Two small double shot lattes later, the crew showed up. Marianne came with the UOW’s fan packet which took to our various vendors before she had to start her interviews for her Iowa PBS production.
Finally got to our booth...2022 where Kim was already assembling the Ikea desk.
We had already decided that we were the non-union assembly workers while Holly, our Alpha-booth-manager, was the set-designer.
Here is a pix of our Market Team minus Kim who had to leave early. Present left to right...Holly Erdei-Zuber, Marianne Fons, Sue Hoehring, Catherine Roberts and Sandra Fraenkel. Holly, Sue and Sandra presented Marianne and myself our own miniature QOVs of their QOV designed “With Gratitude” which will be available for “Official UOW’s Quilt Shops” with kitting instructions!
As we were setting up the booth, I quickly remembered how much work is involved. Like...did you remember to bring the cordless screw-driver, staples? Begging, borrowing and more borrowing is the name of the game. One of my jobs was to get various items which you think would be easy BUT think again. Everyone at Market is busy assembling THEIR own booths. Workers at the GBCC are unionized and they don’t cross lines. Oy vey.
Outside the GBCC, Cynthia and Karen were coming with lunch and their willingness to help
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Four of the nine fabric companies have posted their American Valor and Quilts of Valor fabric lines on their company pages: Marcus; Clothworks; Red Rooster; and Windham
Follow the links to see what they have in store for making QOVs. Links to Moda; Timeless Treasures; Andover; Quilting Treasures by Cranston; and P & B Textiles will be posted when they are available.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Hello! My name is Judie Yates. I am thrilled and honored to be a part of the Quilts of Valor Foundation team.
I have been a sewer since I was 13 when I bugged my mother to teach me to sew. I quickly advanced beyond what Mom knew and enrolled in my school’s Home Economics class. (That tells you a little bit about how old I am!) When I became a mother of two beautiful children, I continued to sew for my little ones but it wasn’t too long before they didn’t want “homemade” clothes so it was then that I got into quilting. At the time, we lived in a small town in the high desert of Southern California with one grocery store and a TG&Y (another reference to my age). Eleanor Burns came to town and gave a lecture at the junior college and I was hooked! With her log cabin book and my red, white and blue fabrics from the dime store, I taught myself by making two quilts for my son’s bunk beds. He’s 35 years old now and still owns one of those quilts today so I must have done something right.
In 2007, I bought my longarm machine and shortly thereafter volunteered with QOV and have loved every minute of it. The stories that have been shared along with the quilts that have been donated have touched me deeply. I can’t imagine not being involved with those who have given so much for me, my family and our country.
My husband and best friend for 31 years is my biggest supporter and, with his help, I hope to not only cover my family with love through my quilting but also to, in some small way, repay a portion of the sacrifices our soldiers and their families have made on our behalf.