This summer, my wife (Kathy) and I were privileged to receive a request from the Quilts of Valor Foundation to present a quilt made by someone for their loved one.
The quilter lives on the West Coast and her loved one lives on the East Coast about an hour from where we live. The request was to present a quilt she made to Honor this patriot for his service and sacrifice to this Great Nation.
We arrived early and rang the doorbell.
We knew Marty's overall condition (blinded and recovering from other wounds), but of course did not know the rest of the story.
Greeted by a handsome man, probably in his late 30's, perhaps waiting for his fortieth birthday, the Sergeant's broad smile warmly greeted us as he beckoned us into his home.
Marty has been blind for a little over one year now and still has trepidation's about getting around his house.
He had only seen his house once, from the outside, before he shipped off to Afghanistan.
Sometimes in life you meet someone and in moments you feel like old friends. So it is with Marty. His wife was still at the store and expected home soon, so we chatted a bit. Marty said he almost forgot about our presentation of the quilt.
While Marty chatted away, he had proudly poured Sangria he had made when the conversation stopped - we heard a whimper off to the side.
His new baby girl was stirring in her bassinet! We also knew that Marty's wife had given birth just some 5 weeks before our arrival, yet we had not given it a thought.
When a warrior is severely wounded in battle and placed on a stretcher to be airlifted to a field hospital, frequently, the warrior's clothes are cut away to facilitate immediate, life-saving, care.
Once stabilized, a Quilt of Valor was placed upon Sergeant Marty to Honor and Comfort him at life's most precious moment - a pivotal point of his survival for life. This was YOUR Quilt of Valor. From battlefield, to field hospital, through an airlift to Germany for multiple surgeries and touch down on American soil at Joint Base Andrews, to his final homecoming - your Quilt of Valor traveled with him.
Today, stateside, Marty is without vision. He will never see his newborn daughter.
He can touch his daughter's face, smell her powdered newborn body and caress her while he rocks her to
Your comforting Quilt of Valor wraps them both in the warmth and love of this Nation, sewn by you, while it nurtures their precious time together and forever forges a bond of love we can only imagine.
When Marty senses his daughter might be chilled, he gently folds your quilt and lays it upon the new person in life he cherishes.
Marty served a long and Honorable career in the Special Forces. After he retired, he sought work in private industry to go back and aid the people of Afghanistan. This is where he was stricken in the explosion of an IED - again, trying to help other people.
He speaks well of the people and culture he served trying to uplift those in Afghanistan. Marty holds no grudges and has a bright outlook on life. He is, perhaps, stronger today, than before his injuries. You too can note his pride in his assured stance. Not apprehensive, not doubting, ever vigilant for his family and country.
Today, without sight, Marty will feel the texture of the many pieces sewn together in your quilt – those pieces will represent to him the diversity of this Nation, coming together as one. He will feel the threads that stitch the Quilt of Valor together – these are the threads that bind this Nation of many people into one great Nation - and he will forever know in his heart - that you, on one beautiful day in Montana, made a Quilt of Valor, for someone you may never know, for their service and sacrifice for all of US.
Thank you for your patriotism, your kindness and your continuing efforts making Quilts of Valor to Honor and Comfort our service members and Veterans touched by war.
Please know that your continuing efforts will continue to touch the lives of those who serve to protect and defend us all - everyday.