12 Vets Receive Quilts

Doug Berger/Herald Robert Baumgardner, a Navy veteran who served in World War II, receives a quilt and was recognized for his service by the Ava affiliate of the Quilts of Valor Foundation in ceremonies held Sunday at the Ava General Baptist Church.

Twelve Ava area veterans were honored Sunday afternoon with the presentation of quilts from the Peace and Friendship Patriots, the Ava affiliate of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. Connie Sherrill explained that the local affiliate was officially organized in August. Local quilt makers had made and donated 22 quilts last November, but those presentations were made through the Springfield affiliate.

Among those receiving a quilt Sunday were Edward Teeple, Navy veteran, served from 1942-1972; Robert Baumgardner, Navy veteran, served 1943-1946; Jesse Donald (JD) Ross, Army veteran, served from 1949-1953; Robert Jones, Army veteran, served from 1953-1955; Jerry Johnson, Navy veteran, served from 1959-1963; Ira C. Heriford Jr., Army veteran, served from 1962-1964; Charles Russell Stone (Butch), Army veteran, served from 1965-1967; Larry Burnett, Navy veteran, served from 1966-1968 (active) 1968-1978 (reserve); Robert Earl Upshaw, Air Force veteran, served from 1966-1987; Lawrence Richard Luellen, Army veteran, served from 1967-1973; Lonnie Ray Curtis, Army veteran, served from 1968-1970; and Rufus (Bud) Clinkingbeard, Navy veteran, served from 1952-1956.

Edward Teeple and Rufus (Bud) Clinkingbeard were unable to attend Sunday’s presentation, and will receive their quilts at a later date.

Doug Berger/Herald
Military veterans recognized Sunday with a quilt by Quilts of Valor Foundation affiliate Peace and Friendship Patriots were (front row, from left) Jesse Donald (JD) Ross, Larry Burnett, Lawrence Richard Luellen; (back row) Ira C. Heriford Jr., Jerry Johnson, Charles Russell Stone (Butch), Lonnie Ray Curtis, Robert Earl Upshaw, Robert Baumgardner and Robert Jones. Edward Teeple and Rufus (Bud) Clinkingbeard were unable to attend.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003, as the idea of Catherine Roberts from Seaford, Delaware. Her son had been deployed to Iraq.

In the Sunday ceremony introduction, Debbie Stone, with the local Quilts of Valor affiliate,  explained that Roberts had wanted to do something meaningful for the veterans who were injured on the battlefield or who were suffering from the stresses of war.

“Catherine was a quilter. So she decided she could help by making quilts to provide comfort for wounded warriors coming off the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. If you think about it, what could be more comforting than a beautiful quilt made by hand. So Catherine called on her quilting friends for help and before long through the magic of the internet word spread and many Quilts of Valor groups spread across the country and as the organization grew and so did its mission. Now Quilts of Valor are awarded to any service member or veterans who have been touched by war. We do not attempt to define what that means, only those who served know the extent of their service, and its impact on them. Even though they may not have served in combat, they made the same promise the day of their induction, essentially writing a blank check to the United States government. Since then over 260,000 Quilts of Valor have been awarded across the United States and overseas,” Stone stated.

“Our mission is to honor our service members and veterans who have been touched by war with Quilts of Valor. Our Foundation represents one human being reaching out and touching another, without judgement. Reaching out with acceptance, with an acknowledgement and appreciation of service to our nation. This quilt brings you a three part message from our heart. First we honor you for your service, whether you served in time of crisis or in time of peace. Next our quilters know that freedom is not free. The cost of our 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 though your family and friends cannot be with you at all times, you are forever in all of our thoughts and hearts. We believe the quilt that we bring you today has the ability to offer both comfort and warmth. We know that you experienced dark times or you are in want of a great hug, you will wrap the quilt around you so it can provide you comfort,” she said.

“This Quilt of Valor says, unequivocally, thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation. Our quilts are awarded, not handed out like a magazine or video. A Quilt of Valor is like a lifetime achievement award. It is awarded only once in your lifetime, and never sold or given away. It’s not a charity quilt. It is not a blanket. Quilts are made of layers, blankets are not. If you are a quilter you know a quilt consists of three layers held together by quilting stitches. We like to think of the layers this way. The top of the quilt with its many colors, shapes and fabrics represents the community and the many individuals we are. The batting or filler is the center of the quilt, is warmth, representing our hope that this quilt will bring warmth, comfort and peace to the individual who receives it. The back is strength, to support the other two layers, and represents the strength of support of his or her family, our community and our nation. Each stitch that holds the layers together represents love, gratitude and the tears of the maker. Today we hope to bring each of you honor and comfort though we can never know the depth of your sacrifice to defend the United States of America. This quilt is a gesture of gratitude and respect from a grateful nation. There is no other quilt like yours and today we inscribed your name on your Quilt of Valor so that we can let future generations and your family know what you have done for our country,” Stone stated.

Persons can make a Quilts of Valor nomination at the Quilts of Valor website or by contacting a member of the local group.