I have just returned from a Quilt Presentation for the homecoming of Bravo
Company B 155th Infantry Unit Homecoming celebration in Poplarville, MS along
with 10 other quilters from our group. There were 131 soldiers in the unit.
Not all were present as some are assigned in other locations across the country
and we will ship their quilts to them directly. The moments were almost too
special to even begin to describe.
My favorite 3 moments of the day:
1. After all was done solders were loading the remaining quilts on a huge dolly
to go to my truck for us to ship to those not present later. A couple of
soldiers walked up to me and one said “he didn’t get one because he wasn’t
here”. I sent him to the Sgt. with the list of those who were deployed, the
list of those to receive quilts (there are those new to the unit who did not
receive quilts today). The Sgt. walked him over to me and told me he was to
receive a quilt. So I promptly told him to take off his backpack and put it on
the table as I took a quilt off the top of the stack and removed it from the
pillow case. The Sgt. said “you gotta get the experience, ya gonna get wrapped
in love” with a huge grin on his face.
I told the soldier to turn around and I wrapped the quilt around him and told
him this is your superhero cape because you are a hero to us, thank you for your
service and welcome home. The Sgt. said with no prompting from me “you’re home
now, you’re safe, you are wrapped in this love and you are finally safe.” The
soldier lit up with a light I don’t have the words to explain.
I barely kept my composure.
2. After the soldiers were wrapped in their quilts a soldier wearing his quilt
walked up to me and said “this is my daughter”, a girl about 10 or 11, “and this
is her friend”, another girl about the same age. He pointed to the friend and
said “her dad is in Afghanistan and she wants to know if she can get one of
these quilts to send to her dad for Christmas.” I told her these quilts are for
this unit but if you give me your contact information I will see what I can do.
The truth is I had a quilt at home in a different style that we didn’t need for
the presentation today. It was mostly made by a 9 year old quilter and her Mom,
who were both at the event today. I thought it would just be great to let the 9
year old contact her and give her the quilt to ship to her dad for Christmas.
We’ll make that happen next week. When I told the other quilters in the room
about it they almost declared an emergency meeting on the spot saying “yeah, we
can knock out another quilt in a couple of hours with all of us working on it.”
I reminded them that we still have the 9 year old’s quilt that we were looking
for a special place for. There is no way that girl isn’t going to have a red
white and blue quilt to ship to her dad for Christmas.
3. Just after the soldiers were wrapped in their quilts in all the activity a
woman not quite my Mom’s age walked up to me. She stood there facing me for a
moment and she couldn’t talk. I could see her fighting back the emotions and I
just hugged her and said “I know.” She just held on so tight and she was just
overflowing with emotion. She said “you don’t know what this means.” I told
her that we, all of the quilters, are civilians and we are not military families
and no, we do not know. Her father was a POW in WWII. She is married to
Vietnam Vet and her son served in Iraq. Again, I barely kept my composure.
Oh, and she is a quilter! Clearly a new recruit for our group and very anxious
There were many other amazing moments. Oh, they presented us with a certificate
of appreciation, I almost forgot. It was a day of moments I will always
remember. How very blessed and very special we all felt to be able to be a
part of this presentation. The soldiers just loved the quilts. One of the
soldiers told me his wife said “be careful with your quilt, don’t leave it
laying around or just put it down, hold onto it, you got one of the good ones.”
He said to her “look around the room, they are all good quilts, it doesn’t make
any difference which one I get, they are all great.”
We arrived with a big SUV and a 4 door pickup loaded with 131 quilts folded, in
pillow cases and neatly stacked. I went in and asked for the dolly. The First
Sgt. promptly volunteered several guys to get the dolly and come unload for us.
The guys were just too cute when they said “man, this is a lot of pillows, who
are all these pillows for?” We said “it is a surprise” and could barely keep
from bursting out laughing. All the soldiers really did think we had a HUGE
stack of pillows in the corner of the room. They had no idea we were there to
present quilts and those were quilts they just hauled in. Only a few of the
commanders knew what we were up to.
While they all returned from Iraq, very sadly one of the soldiers was lost on
Thanksgiving Day in a car wreck here in the US. The First Sgt. had already told
the family about the presentation of the quilts and is taking a quilt to the
soldier’s family this afternoon.
There were too many “thank you” and too many “I can’t believe ya’ll were here in
our training room doing this the whole time we were gone and we had no idea” and
too many “there is no way we can ever thank you enough, you don’t know what this
means” to even begin to describe. And way too many just plain speechless hugs.
I hope at some point everyone who works on quilts for our military gets the
opportunity to be a part of presenting quilts to soldiers like this.
Keep up the good work and thanks to all of those who supported us to get this
done, we couldn’t have done it without you.