Veterans honored with Quilts of Valor ceremony

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, June 13, 2023

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WEST POINT — Two veterans of U.S. military service were honored by the Georgia-Alabama State Line Chapter of the Quilts of Valor on Saturday morning. Gaynell Morris of Valley and Vicki Rumph of LaGrange each received a quilt in appreciation for serving their country during wartime.

A 1979 graduate of Valley High, Morris was in the U.S. Navy from 1981 t0 1998 and served during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Rumph is originally from Marshallville, Georgia and served in the Army Reserves from 1988 to 1998, during the Desert Shield-Desert Storm era and spent time in Kuwait and Iraq.

Rumph had 13 family members from Marshallville, Valdosta, Marietta and LaGrange present for the Saturday ceremony.

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“I am grateful for them to be here with me today,” she said. “I appreciate what your quilting group does and am honored to be here today.”

Rumph is a proud member of the Kappa Epsilon Psi, a sorority for women who served in the military.

Morris said she has some great memories of her military service and is glad to be back home near her parents, Rudolph and Margaret Morris.

“I got to see the world while in the Navy,” she said. “I really liked being in Europe, especially Italy. I got to meet so many nice people I would have never met had I not been in military service.”

State Line Chapter spokesperson Debra Alexander thanked the quilters for what they do and offered an invitation for anyone who can quilt or sew to join them at on the second Saturday of the month.

“We appreciate any help we can get to keep this going,” she said. owner Steve Tramell thanked the local chapter for what they do and that he was glad for them to be doing it in West Point.

The program began with a medley of military songs, “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” for the Army, “Anchors Aweigh” for the Navy, “Semper Veritas” for the Coast Guard, “Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder” for the Air Force and “The Marine Corps Hymn” for the U.S. Marines.

Alexander read a narrative about the national Quilts of Valor organization. It was founded by Catherine Roberts in 2003. Her son was serving in harm’s way at the time, being involved in the invasion of Iraq. She worried constantly for his safety and one night had a dream of him being haunted by his war demons and then finding comfort in wrapping himself in a quilt.

That inspired her to form a quilting group of women making quilts and giving them to soldiers who were serving, or who had served, in combat zones.

It took several years for Roberts and her small group to make 100 quilts, but as other women found out what they were doing more quilting chapters were formed. They went from coast to coast. The number of quilt presentations passed the 100,000 mark in 2014. As of this month, a total of 348,550 quilts have been presented to veterans and active duty personnel.

“Each quilt presentation carries with it a three-part message,” Alexander said. “First, we are honoring you for your service and your willingness to leave all you hold dear and stand in harm’s way in a time for crisis for all of us. Second, we know that freedom is never free. Our quilts are meant to say thank you for your many sacrifices. For those of us who have never seen combat or been in a war zone, such experiences are beyond our capacity to comprehend. Finally, these quilts offer you comfort. Throughout history, when young men left home to fight in a war, many of them took a quilt made by a family member that they called a comfort quilt.

It may have been all these young men had to remind them of the warmth memories of home can bring. We want you to use this quilt.

It is not meant to be hung on the wall or put in a display case.”

The local chapter has made a special effort to award quilts to veterans of World War II and Vietnam. Those Americans who came of age during WW II have often been called “the Greatest Generation.” Precious few veterans of that war are still living. The Vietnam War was a divisive period for our country, and those Americans who served in it were often disrespected on their return home.

It’s long past time to make amends for that.