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Memorial Day 2020

I am sure most of us will remember this Memorial Day just like the last few months. We will remember that today is the day we are to remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. I have played taps more times than I can remember.  Today will be different because of Covid19 but we will not forget. So, I will play with 2200 other trumpets and buglers playing in their front and backyards to honor our fallen. We are playing with Taps for Veterans, a non-profit that helps find live buglers for veterans. It is an honor to be a part of this organization that also provides for veterans.

If you have a minute, at 3:00 pm please pause to remember as I play the 24 Notes of Taps. I will remember and be thankful.

Check out our backyard. Not everyone has a life size Statue of Liberty. Praying that our days will get better. Keep on stitching – we will soon be together to share our love of quilting and for our veterans.

Blessings,
Gail

(Stay tuned for video of taps)

Boy, has all of our lives changed through Covid-19. Here we were just being our normal selves, what we called normal, and boom everything went crazy.

We are still getting pieced tops in weekly so our ladies are working as much as they can tolerate when trying not to listen to the news which is so depressing.

Many of our Chapters are making masks as the need is so great. We are keeping track of where our masks go and how many we are making. We have volunteers who don’t sew helping us, giving them something to help with in this crisis. We don’t ask anything for our masks. We just tell them to remember us in their donations sometime. This would have been a great time to design quilts but here we are making masks. Flo, Mom, Dad, Diana, Jeanine, Stacy, Willene, Carol and Laurie have been helping pretty much daily. Rita, Vera, Joan and Nadia are helping from home. Mary W. gets her Sew Sisters going and Della has her family making masks – love how all these quilters come together to help others. We have given to Stockton VA, the 377th Army Unit on the front lines, to Officers on the front lines, Hospital nurses and Hospice. To me, it is an honor to provide for all who need so for now we will keep making masks.

We have received a few Quilt Labels from Chapters who have given one or two quilts. We have been mailing an average of 10 quilts out weekly from Headquarters. When everyone does start up again, we may have to change how we present. Here, where we live, when we go out in public we wear a mask but shaking hands has gone by the way side.

So what have I done while everyone has the weight of the world on their shoulders? I’ve mended real fences, we do live in the country, painted fences, fixed gates, worked in the yard and planted my garden. During the week I’m in the shop Longarming as I am the only one while we all cope with this virus. My breaks have been running Flo or the folks to the Doctor which is an experience in itself.

We miss everyone and not having workshop or sew days has been a bummer. We are blessed to have Jan and Willene come on Tuesdays to do mailing and Admin. They both shelter by themselves so we all feel safe also to get them out and they have to survive my cooking.

We are wondering how many of you would be interested in doing Zoom. We would all log into our computers and could see each other and talk. I don’t want us to lose our Quilts of Honor Family. What we do for our veterans will not stop. We may have to change but we all know how important these quilts are to our veterans. Just last week I received an email from a veteran who had gotten his quilt at the Moving Vietnam Wall in 2017. He wanted to say how much it means to him every time he looks at it, now more than ever.

Didn’t mean to write a book but wanted to keep in touch with all of you. Don’t forget about our QOH Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/134434059904991/?ref=bookmarks ). We are going to start posting more quilts for all to see.

If you feel inclined, please let us know how you all are doing – drop us a line.  My heart is with each of you.

God’s Blessings

Gail

 

This Easter will be so different for everyone in the United States and one I am sure we will never forget. I bet this is how they felt in WWII with running out of supplies. We don’t have a curfew at night but we are basically home-bound.

It is not easy for many and can cause depression. I hope you all know that you can call QOH. We are here for every one of you. Sew a top and think how there are a lot of our military who are on the front lines right now helping in hospitals. Let’s pray they don’t get sick.

I know many of you are doing your part by sewing face masks. Sewers have come together from all over to make face masks. I am proud of our QOH ladies who have made so many. I know here at Headquarters I am still quilting but Flo is sewing masks like crazy as everyone keeps calling wanting big numbers of face masks.

We still have been mailing out 8-10 quilts a week all across the U.S. so we are still busy. I am blessed that I can walk into the Shop and quilt to keep my spirits up and it also helps me be thankful for what we do.

I wish each one of you a Happy Easter. I pray each of you stay well and that someday soon we will be together again.

God’s Blessings
Gail

 

A Busy December

December started with the Legion of Valor Christmas Party on December 7th, a day that will never be forgotten. It is one more day veterans fought for our freedom. Sometimes I often wonder why our veterans are only thought about on special days instead of all year long. We honored 8 veterans with quilts. Our first two were Purple Heart recipients, both very taken by their quilts. Our last was for Denny, a Vietnam veteran. He wanted to give his quilt to a veteran he had been visiting in a VA home and had no family. We told him we would get him a quilt that he could give to his friend.

Quilts of Honor is always thinking of our veterans. I have watched as our QOH Chapters go the extra mile to get their quilts to the veterans, some driving miles just to make sure they honor the veteran. That is dedication and passion for our veterans. I am so proud of all of our QOH Chapters.

On December 10th, we went to the Lions Club to honor two veterans, both Operation Enduring Freedom. We had been trying to award the first quilt for over 2 years and never gave up, a Marine who now manages a bank. Our second quit recipient was for a veteran injured by an EOD blast. He has had over 18 surgeries on his head and has lost his eye but he has the best attitude. He told us his girlfriend stood by him through it all. They got married while he was having surgeries so she would be able to help him. They have been together 11 years and have 2 children. After he received his quilt he came up and said, “I have all kinds of medals but this quilt is the best.” Our last quilt of the night went to a Vietnam veteran no one knew or had put him in for one. We had an extra quilt in the truck so Flo fixed it up and we surprised him and all the guys when we called his name. He fought back tears big time. After the presentations, they passed the hat and we received over $1,700 – what a great night! The Linden Lions rock.

Then it was time for my VA appointment where I gave a female a quilt – she loved it. We then drove to Berkeley to present a quilt to a Gulf War veteran. I knew about this veteran for a couple of years and wanted to reach out. AnnMarie, my friend from Virginia, had reached out to him and called me and said let’s meet there and you can give him a quilt. So, AnnMarie, Tiffany and Jimmers drove straight from the airport and we met them at Ehren’s house in Berkeley. Man, how crazy are the roads in Berkeley. Every time we turned around there was another roundabout or one way street. Almost drove me crazy getting there.

We finally arrived and Ehren had no idea who we were or why we were there. Ehren had been featured in Craft in America, a special called SERVICE, in 2014. I was in the same special. Since that time I have always wanted to meet Ehren. He makes pottery mugs and expresses what he feels in his pottery and it helps his PTSD. He then gives the mugs to veterans or those suffering from PTSD. He has given over 22,000 mugs.

The first thing we did as we got in the door, was to award Ehren his quilt. He said that he had heard about the quilts but never thought he would get one. Ehren, a Marine from the Gulf War, said he didn’t come back the same and he wanted to make a difference. He had mugs already made and told me to pick out one, please take one. They were all different and you could tell they each had a story. Ehren lives right in the middle of Berkeley but his backyard was a garden that looked like a jungle – enjoy the pictures.

We got home that night by GPS and Waze taking us on the backroads through Berkeley. Boy, was that an experience. We received texts all the way home – “thank you for the quilt; It’s beautiful; everyone loves it.” It was a great night. We got to meet up with friends from Virginia and award a quilt.

We had our December Workshop and Christmas luncheon on the 18th. 47 volunteers attended and shared what they were thankful for this Christmas. It was pretty special as they always ended with how special Quilts of Honor is to them. Bonnie stood up and asked the volunteers to take up a donation for QOH and for all Gail give us. They passed a hat and by the time the day was done, they had collected over $1,000. This, to me, was a Christmas Miracle. The love of the group and the sharing, I can still see their faces as they shared. I am so proud of our QOH Family.

The month of December was very special but then again, every month is special with Quilts of Honor. Our volunteers are one of a kind with great passion for our veterans.   Thank you to everyone who support us in any way.

Merry Christmas and God’s blessings,

Gail

 

November – Veterans Month

We began our month of November at 0-dark-30 heading to Walnut Creek to the Berean Christian High School. For those of you who don’t live in California, Valley Springs is a small community in the foothills. We are considered country folks so driving to Walnut Creek in the Bay Area traffic, getting up at 0-dark-30 no one enjoys that part, but we do it for our veterans.

We arrived at the School, signed in at the office and the office lady said they were having quite a few visitors because of us and welcome back. We have gone to Berean Christian High School for many years. It was Quilts of Honor that helped them learn to make quilt tops and honor our veterans. Carol, a family friend, met Flo and I and became part of the QOH team. She took pictures for us so Flo cold help feed the quilts as the students carried them to center stage. Carol also works at Berean. The ceremony is always held in the Gym which is beautiful. They call it chapel and all the students attend. This year Craig Lee was master of ceremonies. We started with God Bless America sung by one of their own then we all sang. It is always inspirational with the veterans all sitting in their chairs not even knowing what is going on. They came because a daughter, son, grandson or granddaughter wanted to honor them. Quilts of Honor was their surprise and this year we had some veterans that didn’t qualify for a quilt so we called them up front and pinned a Veterans Pin on their collar. Both veterans thanked us for the honor of being there.

Craig called each veteran up. Our first was an Air Force female veteran. Boy was she shocked and once she received her quilt she never stopped talking about her time in service which she had not done before. Each veteran had a great story. One even served in an Army Band but he played clarinet. He said he was asked to play taps on his clarinet as there were so many killed in action. He said he saw how many times the buglers were called during Vietnam. One of the Navy veterans brought his uniform for the students to see and said he was 8 inches too big to fit into it – they sure laughed at that.

The last veteran was 98 years old, WWII veteran, who served on a Tin Can Destroyer as he described it. They were hit numerous times in the Pacific by the Japanese. They lost 150 men and kept the boat afloat by stuffing their mattresses in holes and throwing what they could overboard. It was amazing to stand there and listen to him – what a hero. I can’t even believe all these years he has lived and tells his story. When I gave him his quilt he said it was the nicest present. When I took his arm to walk off I felt proud to be with him.

It was a great ceremony and we ended with one of the female teachers singing the National Anthem. She was going out on maternity leave and boy was it good. We ended up awarding 7 quilts and 2 veteran pins. It was also nice that three of the quilts presented were from the school itself. When we finished, of course we had to stop and shop. Flo spotted a Patriotic Nutcracker in the store window and is now sitting in the Barn so we can enjoy it.

We had a couple of days in the Shop to get ready for Veteran Honors in Valley Springs. The Rotary Club of West Calaveras was having a chicken BBQ ribs dinner. They asked if Quilts of Honor would be a part of it. I said sure and asked if there would be veterans to present. Gary said he would see if he could find some. In the meantime, my veteran brother, Mike, calls and said he has a friend he had gotten to know who has a Purple Heart and could we get him a quilt. I told him to bring him to dinner, so he got Warren and his wife to dinner so we could surprise him.

Then Gary calls, “Gail I got one Vietnam veteran who has played Santa Claus in our Christmas parade for 22 years.” I knew Jeff and was excited for him. So, we had two – not bad for last minute. Flo got the quilts ready and we always take extras. We got to dinner and there was 14 of us. We had two tables. I was at one end of the table and Diana, my sister, had asked two friends. Margaret sat next to me and as everyone was talking, Judy said that Margaret was a veteran. I asked Margaret when and where she had served. She said she had been in the Army for 10 years. I asked her why she didn’t tell people that she was a veteran and she said she hadn’t put in as much time as others. So, guess what. Her name went on one of our extra quilts. You should have seen her face when Gary called her name. When she sat down with that quilt she kept hugging it and said that she was redoing her whole house and the quilt was amazing. I told her to start telling people that she was a veteran.

Then came Warren, Purple Heart recipient. His wife was crying, his buddy was crying when he got his quilt and when I looked over at him at the table he was hugging that quilt.

The 3rd quilt was another Vietnam veteran. Gary asked him about his service, he was speechless but what a smile.

The last was Jeff, Santa Claus, Vietnam veteran. When I went to shake his hand he said, “Oh no, you’re not getting away that easy.” He grabbed the mic and said: You know what this lady has done all over the states. She goes giving these quilts. Then he broke down, said it was an honor to have one, starts crying, grabs me and hugs me.

What 4 great deserving veterans.

Just when I’m so glad my part is over and I’m walking back to the table, I hear my name – Come back up front. So I get up there and Gary, master of ceremonies, and also a Supervisor in District 1, says, “We are honoring two special veterans tonight for Service Above Self for the benefit of veterans.” I was awarded a plaque along with my fellow veteran, Guy, Silver Paws non-profit, who trained Rue my Service Dog.

So, what a night. I will say I don’t like being honored. I don’t do it for that but being in my own home town, this was pretty cool. Thank you Rotary of Calaveras for the honors.

We have been receiving lots of label copies from our Chapters in other states – they are busy as Veterans Week is always crazy.

Tonight I will attend the Marine Ball which has become a tradition with our family – my Dad is a Marine. I will also award a quilt tonight so this should be interesting. I will be in my Army uniform and honor a Marine.

Stay tuned for more to come as we all move through Veterans month. I know that Veterans Day, to me, is like a birthday. I love that we can go and eat free or go to a parade which I have done since I got out of the service. They have made it a good day for so many veterans that deserve it.

God bless all our veterans and all those who are still serving. To my WAC Band Sisters and one brother – May you have the best Veterans Day and I will see you in October 2020.

Blessings,
Gail

Day 8 – Journey Home

Before we left Branson we went to the next door neighbor’s and gave him a quilt for his best buddy, a Navy Seabee from Vietnam. So, even when I walk Rue and I make friends and find veterans.

We started from Branson at 8:15am – we wanted to make sure we wouldn’t miss our plane. We stopped for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel about half way there. Gotta keep the crew happy and empty stomachs aren’t good.

When we got closer to Tulsa we stopped at the Hard Rock Café. It is huge and they are building on. We gave ourselves 30 minutes and Flo was lucky enough to bring home an extra $25. The whole crew came home with extra suit cases so what does that tell you.

When we got to Las Vegas, our connecting flight, we had to check in with the gate so they could see Rue. We had on our QOH sweatshirts and the gatekeeper asked what we were all about. The girls gave him the speech and he said all six of you can go on. We felt, like wow. We even all got to sit together. When we were getting ready to leave, the stewardess said, “We have some special people on board, Quilts of Honor.” Everyone on the plane clapped. We felt so honored. We had one empty seat by us and a lady sat next to Flo and asks what we were about. Flo tells her and she turned out to be an Air Force Veteran. Even more cool is that she helped found the Women Military Aviators. Only could happen to us.

My crew, I hope, had a good time, along with working, we did try to see the sights. The 7 of us were in that big house but it all worked out because we are a family. Rick was always there to make sure all his women were ok. Carl made the coffee every morning. We all got into a routine. Thank you Rick, Val, Debbie, Rita, Flo and Carl for always having my back. Love you guys.

To all of our Quilts of Honor Family, you all deserve a big hand for helping us to continue our mission. It takes an Army!!

Until our next adventure, stay tuned . . . . . . . . . .

God’s Blessings,
Gail

We had a slow morning as we knew we had to be ready by 2:30 so we could get there in time. The road closure made it a longer ride and the City of Branson was having three big events so traffic was not fun.

We got into the room in plenty of time to get the Quilts set up. We made Val the keeper of the door to keep people from coming in to see what we were doing. Val was great. She screened everyone and barely let the Master of Ceremonies in but we pulled it off – a great surprise.

Once we got the quilts all set up we went to get our clothes out of the car. We ended up stripping in the car with the girls holding up shirts so we could change. We all said that is a first – changing in the parking lot.

We were to be up after the Missing Man Table and before dinner. We met Linda and Phil as soon as we got there. That is how we came to award quilts to this Army unit that served in Vietnam together – 43 Purple Hearts out of 113 quilts.

They called me up right after the Missing Man Table. It always make me nervous when I walk through the crowd to the front. I told them who I was and how we got there and when I said we were going to give everyone a quilt, you should have seen their faces. We had Don call the names and Rita fed the quilts to Carl, Val and Flo. Debbie took the pictures and Rick handed me the quilts. It took us a while to get them to understand that they had gotten out of order so finally I took the Mic from Don and told everyone that they needed to get in line or we would be there all night. It worked pretty good and we finally got to ‘Z’ and finished. I then told them why we gave them quilts – that we didn’t want them to be forgotten. They gave us a standing ovation.

When we were handing out the quilts at times, I would turn around and there would be 20 people taking pictures and the guys wouldn’t want to leave the stage. The wives and sons and daughters were coming up to us and thanking us. Some were saying that they couldn’t believe how beautiful the quilts were and how much work went into them. We then went to sit down and have dinner. Veteran after veteran came over to thank us. I went out to the car to get Rue and on my way there a veteran in a blue suit came up to me, grabbed me, hugged me with tears rolling down his face. He could hardly talk. He said, “You got my heart and there is a place in heaven for you.” I thought there will be a lot up there with me who help do this.

One Son came over and said, “I’ve been coming with my Dad since I was 13. What you have done for him is an amazing gift. I have learned watching my dad how much they have suffered through the years but this will mean so much to him.”

I shook each veteran’s hand and thanked them for their sacrifice to our country from Quilts of Honor. The look in so many of their eyes – I could see the pain but I could also see what the quilt meant to each one. I can’t tell you how many kisses and hugs I got but Debbie said she got tired of trying to get pictures. One veteran was just grinning and when his family came up to take pictures of him with his quilt, he was laughing like a young kid. All around the room they were taking pictures with their families after they got their quilt.

We took our Crew picture at the end of the evening and you will see Rue’s butt. I think she had enough by that time. As we walked out, people kept stopping us and thanking us. When we finally got to the car I opened the back door and Rue jumped in the back then she jumps over the seat which she never does. We knew she was ready to go and call it the end.

What a gift we give to our veterans. When you see these faces of our veterans, you will just keep on keeping on.

We start for home this morning. I’m sure there may be a few more stories. I want to thank the Crew for all they did and never complained.

God’s Blessings
Gail