Ten quilts were on display Saturday, part of a program conducted by the Laramie Quilts of Valor organization, a group started in 2017 by Pam Peters — who has since moved to Colorado Springs — to honor active and retired members of the military by sewing quilts and then donating them.
In order to qualify for a quilt, a person has to be nominated. When selected, that military veteran or active duty member gets to select whichever quilt he or she wants.
“We have given out 20 quilts so far,” said Diane Trotter, the organization president.
Like so many events that have been impacted by COVID-19, this year’s program differed than the previous three years. While there were some who attended in person, the event was also “broadcast” on Facebook by Kara Enyeart, the owner of Quilt Essentials, where the program was held.
As part of the program, Becky Riley, assisted by Doris Bane, held aloft each quilt and described the name of the quilt, who made it and when, as well as its measurements. She also took the time to describe the handiwork that went into each quilt, such as how many stitches it took to attach panels, materials used, and even the three measurements: top, bottom and middle. Riley also pointed out another aspect.
“Not all quilts of valor are red, white and blue,” said Riley. In fact, several sported autumn colors of brown, darker reds, and gold. These also were not necessarily in Americana motifs, but many of these did fall into that category.
Among those on display that bore either a military theme of Americana included one that Riley herself had made, titled “Vietnam Remembrances.” It marked the year her husband was deployed there, from Sept. 20, 1969 to Sept. 20, 1970. There were photos that had been printed on cloth panels, as well as other features of military service that made up the quilt, and was one of the largest quilts in the program.
“It’s designed as an art quilt,” she said. She questioned whether anyone would use it as a comforter or blanket.
What is a bed turning
A bed turning is a traditional way of showing quilts and explaining quilt designs,
“What it used to be was an opportunity to show off,” said Bane. “A woman would make these quilts and lay them on a bed in a spare room. Then she would host a sewing bee, to show off what she had made.”
About Quilts of Valor
The Quilts of Valor Foundation has been inorganization 16 years. During that time it has awarded quilts to veterans and service members in all 50 states and overseas.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national organization founded in 2003 by “Blue Star” mom Catherine Roberts. With a son deployed in Iraq — a gunner sitting atop a Humvee — she felt ten seconds away from panic 24-hours a day, every day. It was during that time her son was deployed that she had the idea of comforting veterans with quilts.
Since then, more than 140,000 quilts have been awarded here in the United States, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Each quilt also represents a three-part message from the givers to those receiving:
• First, we HONOR you for your service. We honor you for leaving all you hold dear and to stand in harm’s way in a time of crisis, protecting us from the effects of war.
• Next, we know that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. The cost of freedom is the dedication of lives of men and women like you, and this quilt is meant to say thank you for your sacrifice.
• And finally, this quilt is meant to offer COMFORT to you, and to remind you that although your family and friends cannot be with you at all times, you are forever in our thoughts and our hearts. (source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affair)
How to nominate
Forms are available at Quilting Essentials, 314 S. Second St., or can be downloaded visiting the LQOV website: https://laramieqov.wixsite.com/laramieqov or LaramieQOV@gmail.com. Or call Diane at 307-760-2597.