Sewing Starts on Quilts of Valor

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024

VALLEY — The Quilts of Valor organization celebrates a sew day on the first Saturday in February. The Georgia-Alabama Chapter of the Quilts of Valor joined in this year’s celebration by hosting a sew day inside the fellowship hall of Shawmut Methodist Church. A good crowd of chapter members and volunteers was present, and most participants brought their own sewing machines.

“We are making blocks for quilts today,” said group leader Debra Alexander. “This coming Saturday (February 10th) will be an awards day. We will be having it at sewingmachine.com in downtown West Point and will be awarding quilts to three veterans. It will start at 11:15 a.m.”

The national organization recently had its 20th annual conference in Paducah, Kentucky. Present was Chaplain John L. Kallerson, who awarded the first Quilt of Valor to a wounded soldier at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. Since that time, the Quilts of Valor organization has grown from one small chapter to many chapters from coast to coast. Since that start in 2003, more than 360,000 quilts have been presented to veterans who served out country in war zones and active duty personnel who are serving today.

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This past summer, the 350,000th quilt was presented to Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado, a former U.S. Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient who served in Afghanistan.

Quilts of Valor was founded by Catherine Roberts a little more than 20 years ago. 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. Heading into 2024, more than 360,000 quilts had been presented to veterans and active duty personnel.

Each quilt presentation carries with it a three-part message. First, the veteran is being honored for their service and their willingness to have left all they held dear and to stand in harm’s way in a time for crisis for all of us. Second, freedom is never free. A Quilt of Valor is meant to say thank you for their 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 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. Each Quilt of Valor recipient is asked to use their quilt. It is not meant to be hung on the wall or put in a display case.