Monday, March 31, 2014

A NOT Forgotten Warrior

We received an email from a very grateful vet who received a QOV.  His sister put his name in after learning that we also give to veterans of prior wars.

The Letter:

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of your arduous efforts in creating this one-of-a-kind Quilt of Valor for my time in RVN 1970-1971. When I showed this amazing artwork to my family I cried tears that have been pent up in me for over 44 years. It was truly disgusting the way we were all treated upon our return to our homeland from serving in VietNam. It always has been a sore spot in my heart for this abuse ever since... Even my friends that I went to college with would not thank me and did not want to hear anything about my trials and tribulations. I could not even display my decorations without my contemporaries thinking I was a war monger. I am the recipient of two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Eighteen Air Medals and one with a V Device, a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Now that was a true shame. I now have them posted in my living room along with all my other decorations and awards. I served a total of 34.5 years in the Army and retired in July 30,  2005. 

You all have won my heart with this gift. I will cherish it for the remainder of my life and it will be an heirloom to give to my children in remembrance for my combat service in the forgotten war. I have attached some memoirs below from General VoNguyen Giap that really explains the reason for the selfish and media-cultural study of our society of the 60s and 70s. Again, thanks for your love and thoughts in every signed panel. You all are truly amazing!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A History Lesson and Quilts

Middle School students in Spokane, Washington are making QOVs as a result of the efforts of a teacher.  Since there is no funding for sewing classes in the schools, the teacher took it upon herself to do this as an after school program. There were over 30 sewing machines gathering dust. Several of us, in our local Greater Spokane QOV Group, donated fabric to get them started.

The students met after school and that night was buzzing with excitement and a little chaotic but the teacher got them settled and working. Pictured are the results. These three tops are at the longarm now. They have been dedicated to the grandfathers of 3 of the students.  For all of these students the lessons and benefits of participating in making Quilts of Valor are of themselves, saying thank you to our veterans, and the history lessons to name a few.

Great job by these students!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dear Soldier

The QOVF Director received an email with the following letter attached. It just had to be shared. The email also referenced a book by Tom Brokaw, "The Greatest Generation."  You might enjoy this video, a speech with Tom Brokaw regarding the Candy Bomber.

The Letter:

December  12th, 2013

Dear Soldier,

I'm very sorry, but I'm not a good diary keeper, but here are some thoughts about why I made a quilt for you.

I have been making quilts as part of Quilts of Valor for three years now. I want to give back for the protection you and your fellow soldiers are giving. For me it is not just about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it goes further back. I was born and raised in what was then West Germany and I have always been grateful for the protection the American Armed Forces provided, as well as to those soldiers who fought during World War II to free Germany and made it possible for me to grow up in a democracy.

I grew up close to Frankfurt, so I was always aware of the American military presence; there were always plenty of soldiers around. But I could also see the big American military planes going in to Frankfurt airport. Germans had nicknamed these planes "raisin bombers" during the Berlin blockade by the Russians in 1948. The airplanes used to deliver food and other supplies to West Berlin during the Blockade. The pilots started to drop chocolate bars, raisins and other candy tied to little self-made parachutes for the kids, hence the nickname, which stuck. My father remembers being liberated by American troops, and especially the chocolate and chewing gum he got. The part of Germany where he lived was later handed over to the Russians and his mother with her four sons fled to the American zone in October 1945. So there is a lot of gratefulness in my family towards American soldiers.

For 14 years I have lived in the United States and am a citizen today. So, again I owe you a "Thank you" for protecting freedom and democracy.

I'm including some pictures so you can see how a quilt is made. These are not pictures of your quilt but actually from various quilts, so you can see all the steps. The first step is to come up with a general pattern and choose fabrics. There are plenty of books with patterns, but I often make up my own patterns. The fabrics get all washed and ironed.

Once this is done, the fabrics are cut into stripes and then stitched together to create a square (in the pictures I used a triangle in a sand color and added stripes in blue). Quilts are almost always based on squares, which get then assembled into the quilt top. Once you have all the squares, you have to trim them to be perfect squares and all of the same size (there are special square rulers to make this easier as you can see in the pictures).

Once you have done that, you stick the squares on a design wall, and choose the ultimate design (in the pictures you see two choices). Now you sew all the squares together and finally attach a border. The quilt top is finished! The last step is the back, which is usually just two long pieces of fabric sewn together. The next step is to contact Quilts of Valor, they let me know who will do the longarm quilting. So your quilt now travels by mail, and you can see on the label to which state. Longarm quilting is done on a big machine and there are several pictures included. There are two options, you can either program the machine to stitch a specific pattern, or you can do what is called free motion quilting, for this you hold the machine by the handles and guide it, drawing lines of thread all over the quilt so to speak. When the longarm quilter is done, she sends the quilt back to me. I finish it up doing the binding and the label and taking it to the Laundromat. Finally I'm ready to pack the quilt and send it to you!

Giving you the gift of a quilt is a team effort of several people as you can see, starting with me making the quilt top, next the coordinator assigning a long arm quilter , the person doing the longarm quilting , then the destination coordinator and finally the person presenting it to you . And truly you are at the beginning of this team, because without your service, this team of volunteers would never come together.

I hope you’ll enjoy the quilt as much as we did making it for you.

Best wishes,

Can Only Say Thank You

As a Vietnam Veteran in the Navy, he served on the River Boats on the Delta Rivers and other places. The sailors on those boast were referred to as part of the "Brown Water Navy." Any service member serving on those boats had high hazard jobs the minute they set foot in a country, very short, if any time out of harms way. Many of these men do not speak often of their service since not many can relate to the pressures and situations they served in.  
This Vietnam Vet was presented his quilt on March 4th in a management of his company, he did not know it was coming at all. When first called forward, he stated this was hard for him, and that he did not want to cry here, so my speech was very short. He later told me that when he got home he and his wife had a long cry together.
He comes from a military tradition family and is very proud of his time in the Navy. His plans are to place the quilt on his wall of Honor with his and his parent's military honors. He wants to express his most heartfelt thank you to all the ladies and gentlemen with QOVF for their work, and believes that is such an important service to those who have served
Per him " I can't put into words what this means to me, and can only say thank you."

Music and Quilts - A Comforting Combination

From Lincoln, Nebraska

At the Coffeehaus (Lincoln Veterans Center) monthly musical gathering, veterans sang and performed for others in attendance. This is a volunteer band that believes music helps veterans express themselves and heals the heart. Members of our QOV Quilter's Group were invited to this gathering and were delighted to be a part of the audience listening to their musical talents. They were fantastic.

Two veterans were selected to receive a Quilts of Valor in honor of their service and sacrifice to country. First was Gregory H.  who served in the Army, 5th Battalion 7th Cavalry Division in VietNam.  Second was Jim T., a Navy Seabee who also served during the VietNam War.  Gentlemen, we salute you!