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Homeward Bound

Our time has come to an end with Quilted Hugs of Gratitude in Brainerd, Minnesota. Flo, Rue and I can’t thank Marcia and Sue enough for the great hospitality. They went out of their way, I think they would say the Minnesota Way, to show us around and make us comfortable. It was a short trip but we all learned from each other. They have their group so organized but I knew it would be that way knowing Marcia.

The ladies that help sew for our veterans have stuck with it since 2005, just like us. That is dedication. I am proud that they can be a part of our family. The quilts they made were beautiful and you could tell they took pride in honoring our veterans.

We enjoyed seeing all the sites and hope one day to come back. We drove back to Minneapolis but stopped at Gruber’s Quilt Shop as they are a drop-off point for Quilts of Honor. I introduced myself to the owner and she said good things about Quilts of Honor. I will say this, I have seen a ton of quilt shops through the years but this is the largest I have ever seen. The fabric went for days. They had their own café and quilt retreat, and a group of ladies were eating lunch and playing cards. Flo got more fabric but didn’t get her Minnesota fabric. We made a slight detour to the Outlet Mall but we were back on the road in short time. I never knew the Mississippi River was in Minnesota. We must have crossed it 15 times, and all the lakes! I would say, “Look Flo, water again.”

We are now in the plane heading home. Rue is at my feet – she has been so good. See you all soon.

God’s blessings,
Gail

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Here in Minnesota if you ask a question about something, they say, “That’s the Minnesota Way.” Or, if they do something, “Oh, that’s the Minnesota Way,” so I have sure learned a lot about the Minnesota way. One thing for sure is that they are very, very nice people and very giving.

We started our morning with a nice breakfast with Sue and John and then out to the backyard for an Eagle hunt. We didn’t have much time before we were to meet Marcia at Cherrywood Fabrics for a tour of their facility where they dye the fabric. It was a great tour and yes, Flo bought fabric. We left there and went to the Northern Lakes Senior Living where we were to have our potluck and ceremony. We got the quilts in and Marcia and I decided to change one quilt so Flo sewed on a new label. The ladies started to arrive for the potluck. It was nice that we could spend time with the ladies and the food was great. Marcia made rhubarb slushy – it’s popular here.

We started the ceremony and the Honor Guard brought in the flags then we sang the National Anthem. Sandy, the activity leader, started the program. We sang Battle Hymn of the Republic and Americas the Beautiful – everyone was singing. Sandy introduced me, I said a few words and then we started presenting quilts. Marcia read the names and I presented the quilts. I would shake the veteran’s hand and then Sue would unfold the quilt so the veteran and the crowd could see. You could hear the ooh’s and aah’s as the quilts came out. One veteran said, “That’s impressive,” and another said, “that’s awesome.” We sang God Bless America and we closed with me playing Taps. The quilts were beautiful and we all enjoyed our time at Northern Lakes Senior Living.

We left Northern Lakes Senior Living and headed to Country Fabrics and Quilting store. This is where Deb, the owner of the store, lets the QOH Group meet and have space for all their fabrics. We presented the owner with a Certificate thanking her for supporting Quilted Hugs of Gratitude. After we left there we went to another quilt shop down the road called Colorz Quilt Shop. I was hoping after three quilt shops in one day that Flo would be happy.

We had a nice dinner and finished the day back at Sue and Johns. I headed out to see if we could catch an Eagle but no luck – what a day. Met new people and did what we love – honoring veterans.

Wednesday we will head back to Minneapolis to catch an early flight home on Thursday morning. It has been a great trip and so thankful to be able to come and meet the ladies of Quilted Hugs of Gratitude.

God Blessings,
Gail

What a day yesterday. We met Marcia and Sue for lunch at the canteen across from Camp Ripley. After lunch we headed into Camp Ripley, now Minnesota’s National Guard Post. We went to the Army Museum that was open to visitors. It was quite a Museum with a large vehicle, airplane, and tank display. We really enjoyed All of it. Then we went to the Environmental On-Post and they had wildlife preserved that had lived on the Post – over 250 species. They were all stuffed. Sue and Marcia sweet talked the people so we could get into see the Exhibit. Rue did great – didn’t let that stuffed Wolf bother her.

After we left Camp Ripley we stopped at the Minnesota National Cemetery to see the painting Charles Kapsner, from Little Falls, had painted of the services. The Air Force is still being completed.

We then headed to Sue’s house, where we are staying, on Gull Lake. It is so beautiful, built in the woods on the lake and guess what – they get Eagles. We saw three and yes I went nuts. Wish I had my big camera – I would have went crazy. I did use my phone but I think we only got a spec in the picture. It was hard to leave there and head to dinner and then to speak. We did have a great day and evening.

I will write more of our day after the Ceremony on Tuesday.

Stay tuned . . . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings,
Gail

 

Flo, Rue and I made it to Minnesota, land of the saying “10,000 lakes” but really there are 11,842. I’m not going to say we will see them all. We decided Sunday would be our day off as we traveled all day Saturday. First we going to head to Minnehaha Falls and Park. We started down the freeway and I see a sign that said “Ft. Snelling Historic Site” so off the freeway we go – you know us – you never know where we will land. This was so interesting. First we saw the Mississippi where Ft. Snelling is nestled among the trees next to the river. We got into the Park free as a veteran so you know I was happy – we saved $24.00. We took pictures to explain some of what we saw. I was surprised to find out that the Japanese Americans were trained in language here at Ft. Snelling and some of the guys we gave quilts to, a few years back, were pictured on the wall.

We also learned that Japanese American women from the Women’s Army Corps were trained there for a short time. So, I walked back into history and came forward to today and Quilts of Honor made history by awarding these men Quilts. The Women’s Army Corps is part of my history so I was proud to see the exhibit.

We proceeded to walk towards the Fort when there sits a golf cart with a driver. We asked him if he was giving rides and he said, sure, but he had never given one to a dog, too. I told him she loves the golf cart so up goes Rue and that driver got the biggest grin. He asked what her name was and I told him Rue. He said, “Welcome Rue.”

We got to Ft. Snelling and I had to get to the top of the tower for my “Flag” picture. Most people know I am pretty crazy about the flag. Flo saw those stairs and she said, “I’ll rest,” so me and Rue got up there – the view was awesome. We really enjoyed our side trip, and our cart driver was waiting for us when we finished. Oh, the Gift Shop had a book for 50 rhubarb recipes so I was a happy camper.

Then off we headed to Minnehaha Park and Falls.   We wanted to just see the Falls and when we got to the Park, we discovered you have to pay to park. We see “handicap” so we pull in, thankful we got parking for free. We get out and people are walking everywhere so we asked this lady where the Falls were and she tells us down the road so, back in the car. We must have passed 5 parking lots, all full. One even had a traffic jam. We finally got our handicap spot and headed down the walkway to the Falls. There were families all over but it is a huge Park. There were families riding 4 people bicycles – where was Rita and Debbie when you need them. I know we would have been on one of those bikes, probably cracking up laughing and not peddling. The Falls were beautiful. It really hasn’t been that humid weather wise. We enjoyed seeing so many families enjoying the Parks and Mall.

We left the Park to go hit the Great American Mall. Oh, Lordy, is that place big. I kept saying to Flo, look at that, oh my look at that. The amusement parks, we saw 3, and we were only in a corner of the Mall. We found a Vera Bradley store for Barbara and yes, we went in and Rue was the talk of the store. Yes, we bought something and they even give a veteran’s discount. It took us a while to find or way back but we enjoyed our time. It was the cleanest, prettiest mall I have ever seen and the places to eat, they had it. They even had Forest Gump Shrimp and you know we passed that place up.

So, quite a day but I would say we were doing good seeing sites. Stay tuned for tomorrow as we meet the rest of our Quilts of Honor Family and meet the Quilted Hugs of Gratitude group in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Gods Blessings,
Gail

 

This wall is an experience that anyone involved in working the wall ever forgets. You hear the stories of so many that are heart wrenching. Wisconsin East Quilts of Honor had many of the same experiences and gave out 93 Quilts. We gave out 52 Quilts but we didn’t have the crowds that we had two years ago. The veterans we reached were so worth it. I’m going to try and relay some of our experiences.

We setup on Thursday. Flo, Jan, Willene, Jackie, and myself got there at 10:00 am and opening of the wall wasn’t until 3:00 pm so we took our time getting the pop-ups, tables and goodies to sell ready. It wasn’t minutes before one of the guys said, “Gail, I got a vet that needs a quilt.” So our day began. Our first quilt was a Female Marine Veteran from Operation Enduring Freedom. When I reached for her hand and thanked her, her face became taunt, they when the quilt came out she started to cry. She hugged me crying and hugged most everyone in the booth. She was very emotional and as she walked around the Park, people saw her crying. She was supposed to read names on the wall and she told them she couldn’t do it. She has much healing to do but the Quilt is a start.

Our second Quilt was to a Vietnam nurse. When her Quilt came out, her face was full of surprise then she said, “You are going to make me cry.” So our first two quilts were given to female veterans, a first for us. We all said that we didn’t think on set-up day, we would be giving Quilts then up comes Art, a Vietnam veteran who received a Purple Heart putting himself in harm’s way with a butterfly bomb.

Next was Nomie, a Vietnam veteran, gunner in a helicopter, and they were in so much danger in Vietnam. Gilbert was an Army grunt on the ground, as he called it, in Vietnam. Then came Eric a Coast Guard veteran who came up to the booth and said, “I’m a veteran of Vietnam and I deserve a quilt.” That kinda took us all back in the booth as you know most veterans never feel they deserve a quilt. Our last for the day was to Jose, from Iraq Enduring Freedom. Jose was at the wall counseling veterans. He said that he felt so honored to receive a quilt. So day one was quite a success – more than we expected.

Day two started at 9:00 am. We barely got set up when Ed walked up to the booth. We started talking and discovered that he was in the infantry in Vietnam, so out went the first Quilt. Our second for the day was something we all in the booth will remember. His name is Larry. He was with his dog Binge. He had his Vietnam hat on so we walked over and pulled out a quilt and walked to him. I took his hand, thanked him for his sacrifice and he grabbed onto me crying and kept saying, “I can’t believe this.” He was so happy and said he would be right back. He came back with a book he wrote, Binge the Bear Killer, then he told us the story of how a bear mauled him in the mountains and Binge saved him by biting the back of the bear’s legs so Larry could get free. Everyone in the booth got a signed book. Larry must have come back 10 times that day to see us and thank us. Then Flo ran into an old friend that Johnny and she used to know. Steve had served 30 years in the Army so Flo presented him with a Quilt. His smile went for miles. Then all of a sudden, 3 different guys from different directions walked up to the booth. They didn’t know each other but they all started asking each other where they had served. All three had been in Vietnam, all Army guys, so we presented all three at once. Two out of the three said they were shocked that we would give them a Quilt. Next came Jerry, Army, he repaired radio equipment in Vietnam. Around the corner came Gordon, Navy, and what most people called the brown water Navy as they went down the canals of Vietnam. Many of those veterans suffer from Agent Orange.

By this time it’s almost lunch when Manuel Guzman, who was scheduled to come to the booth, arrived with two of his high school friends that he was going to surprise. His wife, Bonnie, pieced the quilts and I quilted them so we could make it special for these friends, Robin and Vincent. Both guys were so surprised. Bonnie missed it but we got great pictures so she could see. Then we met Rabbit, Army 101st Airborne, Vietnam. I think he is still surprised about his Quilt. Next was one of my favorites – his name is Taco. He walked up to the booth and I start chatting and signal for a Quilt. When I gave him that quilt he grabbed ahold and cried and cried and said he couldn’t believe it. I was getting nervous that he wasn’t going to let go but he was happy. Then we got a Green Beret. I asked him what he did and when he said Green Beret the guys around said, “That’s a Green Beret.”

Then Louis asks me, “Gail, have you seen those guys on the wall that are helping everyone to find names?” I told him no so he proceeds to tell me their story. They go as often as they can afford to help at the Moving Vietnam Wall. Jerry was Army, Vietnam veteran; Dennis, Air Force, Vietnam veteran. Louie, Becky and Flo all walked over to the Wall and presented them with Quilts. They were pretty much speechless but later they came and thanked us for their Quilts. What dedication – we named them the Vietnam Wall Groupies. Last for the day were two female veterans. The husband of one asked about the quilts and we told him we provide for combat veterans and he proudly said that both women were combat veterans. So both received Quilts and their smiles were so big I knew we had done good. Made my day to honor current Operation Enduring Freedom females.

Saturday we started with one of the Karl Ross guys who we had planned on surprising. First, his family was waiting so Arthur walks up to the booth and asks if we needed to see him. His family was hiding in the back and when I gave him the Quilt his face lit up. Daniel was our next Vietnam Army veteran. He served in the big red one and received a Silver Star. We gave him a Quilt and he came back and showed Becky his orders on the Silver Star and Becky got to keep it. Saturday was pretty slow but Corky, a Navy Vietnam veteran and friend of ours from the Delta A’s Car Club, was meeting his brother who had come in from Missouri. Richard served in the Army in Vietnam so we presented him with a Quilt. It was so cute and Corky was so proud that we gave his brother a Quilt. Then came Glen, Army Ranger, wounded in Somalia. He came up to the booth and asked if he could have a QOH bag and how much did the quilts cost. I told him you can’t buy them so we then presented him a Quilt.

Later, I am standing in the booth looking out when I see a Vietnam veteran looking so sad and standing back. I walked out to him and started a conversation. He was visibly shaken and I signaled to Flo to get a Quilt and when we presented it to him he just brook down crying so hard. He said that he had never worn his Vietnam hat before today. He had been in Vietnam, had a good job, got in a fight and the next thing he knew he was on the front lines. He hadn’t come to terms with any of his Vietnam memories. All I can hope is that he will somehow heal.

Then we had the honor of awarding Paul, a Valley Springs local who had come to the Wall, a Quilt. Paul served in the Navy in the brown water. When we presented him his Quilt, he couldn’t look up. Tears rolled down his face but eventually he was happy for his Quilt. Our last one of the day on Saturday was Jennifer, a USMC CH46 Crew Chief. She was this little person in height but she was a combat veteran and I know she could hold her own.

Sunday was our last day and with such a slow crowd on Saturday, we all wondered what Sunday was going to be like. Well, we gave out 16 Quilts. It was busy until late afternoon. The crew was great all weekend. The ladies bound quilts while we worked the booth. We gave out two female veterans so our total was 7 female veterans, a record to find that many. One was retired from the Navy. We had one Vietnam veteran who was in very bad shape but his face lit up when we gave him his Quilt. We gave a Quilt to Lee, a Vietnam veteran. He and his wife were not in the best of health but manned the front gate for four days in the hot sun – what volunteers they were.

The only mishap was the new truck – it doesn’t need a key to start it especially when Flo has a set in her pocket, so we get to the trailer the last day and Gail doesn’t have her keys to unlock it so Flo made a trip to Harbor Freight for bolt cutters – not bad for 4 days.

I want to thank all the volunteers. You make my life blessed to have you in it and to be such hard working, caring volunteers. Special thanks to our new friend, Sandy, who spoiled the crew with cookies, big big cookies and coffee and apple turnovers.

We ended up awarding 52 Quilts and we all said everyone needed them. We all came away with feelings of having done a good job. I did get to play Taps one night as they retired the colors which was an honor.

Our next adventure will be to Brainerd, Minnesota to meet our QOH Chapter. Flo and Rue will keep me company.  The Group has a ceremony planned, plus showing us Minnesota life. I know you all can’t wait to hear about this adventure.

Want to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July. Don’t forget all those defending our freedom.

God’s blessings
Gail

What a special time we had at the Brass Conference. We listened to the Army Quintet, first give women put together from different Army Bands. Four of us from the Women’s Army Corps Band were present and they had us stand for recognition as they said we broke the barriers for them – pretty big honor for us. We all took pictures together then we went to see the music vendors. Oh my, I have never seen so many trumpets and mouth pieces – it was like a candy store for us. When we saw the price tags we went into shock so I’ll just look at the pictures of the trumpets and dream. Everywhere we went you heard horns blowing – it sure was noisy. Rue did good but she was happy when we left. Everywhere we went people stopped to ask about Rue. She even got her picture taken by the photographer. One guy said that he had never seen a service dog there.

The concert was to start at 7:30pm so we got there at 7:00 to meet the IWBC President, Joanna Hersey who was our contact. She told us we would set in the front row and midway through the concert she would call me up. Flo and I sat down and our sisters went up to where they could hear better. When those ladies started playing, WOW, it was amazing. They were so good. It brought back so many memories – they are carrying on our legacy – now that is pretty cool.

Joanna came to the mic and said she had a surprise and would I come up. When I got up there I told them who I was and what we did and that I was a Women’s Army Corps Band trumpet player and they started clapping. I told them that boy had it changed from when we played as we had 1 mouth piece and 1 horn. They all broke out laughing – now they have many of both.

The first quilt came out and the audience went nuts. The second one, the recipient was very taken and her expression shows it. She said her mom is a quilter and can’t wait to show her. They all thanked me and I was thanking them. I was so proud that I could thank active duty female band members.

So many people came up to us afterwards saying how beautiful the quilts were and what a nice thing we did. They had a professional photographer who took pictures and sent them to us. It was so nice that she gave us the photos – hope you enjoy them. By the time the concert was over it was our bedtime but we were happily tired after such a great day and evening.

Our second day was a day off before we start home. We got to see Old Town Scottsdale where, again, Rue was the most popular. I found a life size Remington I decided Dad could buy for me so I took the picture for him. When we got back to the house we decided the TV really wasn’t big enough for us to see – ha – it’s unreal. We went for a ride on the pontoon boat that belonged to the house and saw this cool Studebaker that they made into a boat. It’s been a short visit but a good one. Spent time with my Band sisters, gave out some very deserving quilts.

We start home on Saturday hoping Memorial weekend traffic doesn’t drive us crazy. Thank you to all who are holding the fort down at home.

Stay tuned . . . . . . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings,
Gail

Arizona Trip

We left home after a great Workshop with lunch provided by Fabric Garden of Sacramento. It took us 10 hours to get to Kingman, AZ where we stopped for the night. We had it all figured out. We stopped to get snacks and spent over $17 so I would say we ate our way to Arizona.

We had rain, wind, and almost snow but now it is beautiful and we are resting on the deck. Later tonight we will be at Arizona State at the Athena Concert were we will give out our quilts.

Rue traveled well and is happy now that we have stopped driving the car. Stay tuned . . . . . . .

God bless,
Gail