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9/11-The Day We Will Never Forget

It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since life changed for so many.  We, at Quilts of Honor, are part of that change in many ways.  We give to so many of our veterans who 9/11 changed their lives.  Many joined the service to defend our freedom after America was attacked.  So many Americans wanted to help after the attack, they just didn’t know how.  For some it took years to find ways to help.  Our help came by providing quilts to those wounded mentally and physically.  We have never stopped nor looked back.  I know that day, for many of us, made us stronger Americans.  We honor all the fallen from that day and those who continue to lose their lives from the effects of the Trade Center.

To all our volunteers who continue to stitch, we know it is a labor of love. 

We will never forget.

Because it is 9/11 and I belong to Taps for Veterans, we were asked to play at sunset so I decided to play in my special place, TTT Tahoe Timber Trails, where we have a camp site. Everyone thought this was awesome. They even moved Big Red, the Fire Truck, down to location so it could be included.

I couldn’t let the day go by without honoring a Vietnam veteran who has a campsite here. His wife had asked me to come and play taps at their flag pole. I only said yes so that I could give Bill a quilt. We surely surprised him and and his guests.

We ended our day with me playing at sunset and honoring all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

God’s blessings,
Gail

DC Trip Comes to an End for QOH

Yesterday we did a little touring.  Willene wanted to see the White House so we drove downtown, got lucky and found a handicap parking spot right in front of the Veteran Affairs Building.  We only had to walk about two blocks to see it.  It was all blocked off with many, many barriers.  You can’t go through unless you have a pass.

We decided to go see the National Basilica Catholic Church, one of the largest in the United States.  Also, it was air conditioned.  After touring that we dropped my WAC sisters back at their hotel and headed back to our mansion.  Jeanine was cooking Italian food so we got our quilts ready.  Carla was coming by for 13 quilts and AnnMarie was coming by for 4 quilts.  We got to spend a little time sitting out on the veranda front porch as evening was cooler.  We visited with AnnMarie and Tiffany and talked about how the event went.  They both worked so hard to make their Art show nice.  They did a tremendous amount of work and more people should see it.  Carla got there in time for homemade Italian cookies and ice cream.  We have made such great friends here and we are thankful they will become part of our team.  We called it an early night as we had to get up at 3:00am to get to the airport and drop off people and luggage.  We were packed in the car so we dropped off the girls and Rick and I went to turn in the rental – another experience.

We couldn’t get into the rental lot as they had gates up.  There were cars lined up and all empty so we parked our car just like them and headed inside the parking garage.  We couldn’t figure out how to get out of the garage.  No one was around – it was like a ghost garage.  We finally found the elevator and people movers but they weren’t moving so we had to walk.  Then we got to the moving stairs that weren’t moving either.  We must have walked 50 stairs.  We were tired by the time we got to the ticket counter.  We finally made it, left DC enroute to Houston.  In Houston we had 30 minutes between flights and yes, we came in gate 46 and had to go to gate 22.  We all were moving and finally got on our plane.

We had a great trip.  Jeanine and Carl are such special people to us.  They always make sure we are comfortable, and that Jeanine is a cook.  Carl was happy Rick could shoot pool but didn’t like that Rick could get the 4ball in before him.  They let all our friends come visit and fed them, too.  Jeanine filled our pie plate with Italian cookies so I would say they spoiled us.  We love them and could never thank them enough.  When we say goodbye I always say we are like a bad penny, always showing up.

We gave over 70 quilts and made a lot of great memories and honored some special people.

God’s blessings

Gail

Headed Home

We began our morning picking up my two WAC Sisters then off to Ft. Myer to present a quilt.  The ride over was exciting as usual.  Two GPS’s yelling out directions and we are trying to figure out where we are going and yes, here comes a big U-turn.  I yelled to the back, “I’m going guys,” as I flipped a fast U-turn in traffic.  They all screamed.  Val, who is my co-pilot, said I had told them I was going.

We arrived at the Ft. Myer gate and you have to show ID’s.  They always want the drivers then he asked for anymore in the car.  I handed him a handful of IDs, he just glances at them and lets us through.  We all started laughing.  I guess 8 ID’s was a little much.

We finally got to the Old Guard Leather Shop where we were to surprise SFC Burk with a quilt.  He though we were going to have a tour and yes, he did give us a deluxe tour.  It was amazing to see his work.  He was assigned there as an Army Veteran, he had retired there then they hired him as a civilian.  He has over 37 years working at Old Guard Leather Shop.  We loved seeing the machines.  When he first got there all he had was needle and thread.  We felt honored to have such a great tour.  Thank you to Carla.

We left there to head to the Cemetery before we all needed a restroom stop.  You know how hard it is to find restrooms but Carla came to the rescue.  We went to Ft. Myer Headquarters and got to park in the VIP Headquarters.  Thought we were big stuff.  We left there and after a few U-turns, we finally got to Arlington Cemetery where we were driving to find Col. Arlene Burbank’s gravesite so we could give her a proper send off.  We made sure there was no security and out came my bugle.  Gail and Kay, who had served under her, stood by with tears as I played Taps.  The Colonel so deserved this as she passed during COVID and no one could attend.

We left Arlington and headed to see some of the Memorials in DC.  We saw The Lincoln Memorial where Willene, Rita, Val and Rick walked the stairs.  Then to the Vietnam Wall so the crew could see where Johnny O Brooks, Flo’s husbands name is on the Wall.  We saw the Vietnam Nurses Memorial with stops to sit on the benches under the shade trees.  When we started down the walkway to the WWII Memorial we saw a bunch of trash so Kay picked up one of the bags and started to pick up the trash.  It’s just so sad people can’t be better.  We had a whole bag of trash that we dumped.

Did you see the pictures of the mushrooms?  They were on the lawns between the Memorials and huge.  It was very hot and humid, OMG.  We had sweat pouring down us.  There were lots of people with their feet in the Memorial trying to cool off.  We walked to the Martin Luther King Memorial but not before Rita and I lost the rest of the crew behind us across the street.  That is why you see a photo of the crew standing on the street corner.  We stopped at the Roosevelt Memorial as we headed to the parking spot.  It was really nice and if we all lived by some of his words, the world would be a better place.

We all made it to the car, hot, thirsty and tired.  We had logged over 11,000 steps.  We headed to Mt. Vernon to eat as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  We decided to eat dinner at 4:30pm and had the place to ourselves and the best waitress.  Everyone enjoyed the meal.  The girls hit the Mt. Vernon gift shop and all came out with bags.  As we were leaving Mt. Vernon we got to see this butterfly and I got a shot.  We thought it was pretty cool.

We finally got home about 7:00pm and started sorting quilts.  We had quite a few of no shows.  Some of the quilts will be given out at a later date.  The quilts will stay here for now.

We ended our evening with a fresh peach dessert that Jeanine made and boy was it good.  We are hoping for safe travels Tuesday as we leave at 6:05am.  We also hope we are beating the storm.  Prayers for all of California with these fires and now the South with Ida roaring.

God’s blessings

Gail

The Day After

We had a great day today. I will let Jan post a few pictures to tease you and I’ll write in the morning. It has been a long day and then we spent 2 hours trying to figure out what quilts we will be leaving here for November 2021.

God’s blessings
Gail

We made it through with flying colors at the Military Women’s Memorial but before we get to our stories, I shared two pictures of Flo soaking wet on her birthday and the crew soaking wet.  We walked 4 blocks in the rain to get to the WWI Memorial for me to play taps.  They had blocked off the area where we were to park across from the Memorial.  I had to change with the back of the Yukon door up trying to not get wet.  It was quite a site but I pulled my wool pants up over my shorts, put my wool jacket on over my t-shirt, got my boots on, and off we walked.  At first there was a slight rain but by the time we got to our block, it was coming down.  We landed under a cover at the Willard and by then it was pouring.  There was security everywhere and there were dump trucks parked all along the side of the hotel.  There was definitely something going on.  We waited until a few minutes before 5pm so I could get ready to play taps.  Right before I started, it quit raining – kinda amazing.  The crew stayed right by my side.  I was the only one with a jacket but remember my jacket is over 100 years old.  No water got under me but I was roasting.  My crew is pretty awesome to stay by my side in the rain.  We all laughed at how we looked but we would all do it again.  It was so awesome to look up while I was standing there to see the Washington Monument and to play over the WWI Memorial.  I felt such a peace before I played.

We finished our Friday evening with good food Jeanine had made and a great cake for Flo’s birthday.

Saturday we started to the Military Women’s Memorial.  First we picked up Gail and Kay, two of my WAC Sisters who had come in from SC to help us out.  We arrived on the road to the Women’s Memorial and the security guy said our name wasn’t on the list.  We had to park at the Visitor’s Center which is like 4 Big blocks away.  We had all this stuff to drop off.  Up comes an employee from the Memorial and we told her we had to get in.  She told us we couldn’t park there because there were other people that needed to park.  I told her I was disabled.  She told us to go drop off our stuff and she would drive the car back to the parking lot.  I told her no and that the car was a rental and I was responsible for it.  By this time I am mad.  I asked who could I call to get us in and she said no one.  I drove up and dropped everyone off and said I would be back but I needed to walk off how upset I was.  They made it so hard on me, a disabled veteran, and the Quilts of Honor crew.  We were the Program giving out over 70 Quilts, a value of over $100,000, to female veterans.  Guess that doesn’t deserve a parking spot.

We couldn’t do our quilts properly after we finished our program as we didn’t have a place to put them and the car was too far away.

We did a great job giving out the quilts.  There were a lot of no-shows which makes it hard but those who received their quilts were very appreciative.

There was a family of three generations of Army, the mother WWI, daughter Vietnam nurse, and current Operation Enduring Freedom veteran.  They got a standing ovation.  Then I got to give my new friend, SFC Chelsea, Tomb Guard Leader.  When she comes on stage she says, “Gail don’t joke me” but she knew I was going to tell her story.  To be the first female in 100 years to be a Tomb Guard Leader – she got a standing ovation.

When we unveiled the first 5 quilts you could hear the gasps from the audience.  It got louder each time and they all wanted to see their quilts.  It took our whole crew to keep it moving.  We got so many blessings doing this and many tears of veterans coming up to us, thanking us, for what we are doing. 

We did our job and we did us proud.  This crew gave their all.  Our friends, Uniting US, were there for every need.  We were thankful to be able to honor these female veterans.  It needs to be done more often.

Stay tuned as we call it a night.  Enjoy the pictures – we will have more.

God’s blessings

Gail

We began our day with Jeanine’s Dutch pancake for breakfast.  It is big, beautiful in the pan, and delicious.  We have been spoiled every morning and night.  After our breakfast we headed out to Ft. Myer to meet Cpt. Sammis for our second round of Sentinels.  We actually got to Ft. Myer and to the main gate without getting lost which was a miracle.  We got into our Government van but this time Jeanine lent us a stool so we didn’t have to go airborne getting in and out.

We got to the Tomb and were escorted to the Press Box so we could see the changing of the guard up close.  It was humid and hot but I thought to myself, think about the Guards that were out in the heat performing their duties.  When the changing was finished we went down into the Tomb to start awarding to those on guard.  SFC Chelsea escorted us as she is the leader of the Guard.  Gotta tell you, she loved teasing these Guards.  She called, or should I say used her command voice, and yelled Guard’s name and told them they had 30 seconds to get on the mat.  When she yelled you should have seen the QOH faces.  Rick and I thought we were back on duty.  The Guard flew out of the back room, Chelsea smiled and said Gail.  We did that at least twice so I think she was loving us presenting.  The ones you see in the pictures in uniform had just come off their walk.  They were soaking wet from the heat but boy did their faces light up.  We gave out another 8 quilts and got to see how they prepped before they went on their walk and how they knew when to start their walk.  You will see a picture of a window, when a shadow comes across that window the next guard starts.  It is so amazing to watch all the ceremony and dedication these soldiers have and what they have to do to be the best.

When we finished at the Tomb, we thanked Cpt. Sammis for taking us around.  We sat in the parking lot, ate our sandwiches in the car in the AC.

We started home and boy did we take a couple of detours.  We decided I wasn’t making U-turns, we were making block U-turns.  We did get to see a lot of Alexandria.  We came home to relax and regroup before we had to select all the quilts for the Women’s Memorial.  If you have ever been involved with the selection, QOH wants to know about the veteran.  That is how we pick the right quilt for them.  It took us until after midnight before we finished everything.  We had one tired Crew.

Every time we do this we learn a lesson we hope we don’t repeat but it will all work out.  I will say we have the best Crew.  They dive in and make it work and support is here 24/7.  I am proud of this Crew and how they represent for Quilts of Honor and how hard they work.  They are the best.

We are off to setup for tomorrow so check back for our next adventure.

Happy Birthday to Flo today.

God’s blessings

Gail

Story Coming Tomorrow

We had a busy day today.  We went and presented quilts to more Sentinels and then we had to work on selecting the quilts to be presented Saturday.  It took us hours.  It is 12:30pm DC time so we are heading to bed.

We sang Happy Birthday to Flo and she told us we were 3 hours early so she was still younger.

I will write in the morning.

God’s blessings

Gail

Check out the pictures of the quilts all over the house.

Day 1 – TOMB and FT. Myer

What a day we had.  We started with a great egg and sausage breakfast Jeanine had made then we headed to Costco to stock up for the week.  We came back to the “mansion”, dropped our stuff off, made sandwiches, and hit the road for a drive to Ft. Myer.

We had quite an experience trying to get in Ft. Myer.  We went through 3 different gates, made at least 4 U-turns and ended up at the Visitor’s Center to fill out six applications to get in the gate.  We all walked in, started filling out papers when Val, Rick and Flo showed their IDs and the guy says we didn’t have to fill out papers so we jumped in the car as now we are late to meet Carla and our CPT.  We finally find the building and we all pile into a government van to be taken to the Tomb.  For those of you that have never been in a government van, you gotta step up a giant step to get in.  Well, none of this crew can barely walk so it was quite interesting trying to get in and out of the van.

We arrived at the Tomb and the CPT carried a Duffy for us and he is the Commander of the Guards.  We all walk in and the guys start standing at attention officer in the house.  First we met SFC Chelsea, the first female in over 100 years to be Lead Guard of the Sentinels.  She is number 38th Guard Leader.  We called the Sentinels in alpha order as they all work shifts and tomorrow we will do more.  None of them knew we were coming and each one was so cool.  One Sentinel had just came in from guarding the Tomb and we presented first thing.  When he unfolded the quilt one of the other Sentinels said it has his name on it.  Across the top of the quilt Flo had embroidered Land of the Free Because of the Brave. The Sentinels last name was Land – we had no idea we had done that.

One quilt went to a really tall Sentinel and it fit perfect but the best was a young Sentinel who had just come off the walk when the SFC said, “Let’s fool him.”  When he walked in she asked the soldier what had happened out there and she put him out in front of us.  His face went like scared, he stood at attention, and then she said, “Gail, what do you think.”  That was my cue to come up and give him a quilt.  You should have seen his face change and after he looked at it you could see the biggest smile.  He whispered that I had almost made him cry.  It was such a gift for our crew to be a part of the honor in that Tomb.  You could feel the bond between them and they all shared in the joy of each receiving a quilt.

We all left and walked back to the van that we had to go airborne to try and get in.  We arrived at our car and, did I tell you it is hotter than you can believe?  It’s so humid here and the girls are always hot so the AC is blasting in the car.  We took a ride around Ft. Myer and got to go the back roads.  You know me, I am going to find the alleys and back roads and we did find the Caisson horses’ paddock and the stalls.  We found a beautiful view of the city and ate sandwiches under a lone shade tree with the AC on.

Next we went to the Women’s Memorial so that I could get interviewed by Gwen Tolbart for Fox 5 DC News 2 different times.  That was nervous stuff.  We came back to the mansion after 6pm to a great meal, roast pork and for dessert Jeanine made Italian cookies.  Boy, were they good.  We fought over who got the most cookies and brownies then a rain storm came and out we went to the front porch to see just like kids.  We just don’t get enough rain at home.  We went into the Theater room to watch QOH on TV and see our quilts on TV. 

Guess you could say we had a day of adventures and we even did a walking U-turn.  Willene has finally said no wonder we do so many U-turns – you can’t figure any of these roads out.  Rick was my copilot and as hard as you try, I swear we go the wrong way.

Stay tuned for the next few days adventures . . . . . .

God’s blessings,

Gail

PS:  I also would ask our QOH family to send hugs to AnnMarie, Executive Director of United Us, who lost her dad a few days ago.

DC Adventure

Well, we are on the road again.  We started at “0-dark-thirty”, picked Willene up at 3:15am and headed to the Sacramento Airport.  On our way a skunk crossed in front of us and we all thanked God we didn’t hit him.  That wouldn’t have been good.

We got to our flight on time and met up with Rick, Val and Rita.  So six of us will be honoring our veterans this week.

We had an hour delay in Chicago but at least we got in at a good time.  AnnMarie and Tiff met our crew and helped with luggage and getting them to Carl and Jeanine’s and yes, we are all staying at the mansion.  Rick, Val and I got the rental car and this kid is so happy – we got a blue Yukon GMC 2021 and it fits us all with room to spare but it did cost an arm and a leg.

Jeanine had a great dinner for us and made homemade brownies.  We brought Carl a pie and we babied it all the way – he loved it.  After dinner we started sorting quilts to be ready for our first event.  We got our work cut out for us but we all can’t wait.

Stay tuned to hear our stories . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings,

Gail

Today (Saturday) we started awarding quilts at 10:30am at the Women’s Military Memorial.  Uniting US had picked 5 of the Veteran Artists to receive quilts without them knowing why they were coming early.  Every one of them were more than surprised.  It was so great to watch their faces as each one opened their quilt.  Later, through the day, I heard from each one of them how honored they were and how they never expected anything like a quilt.  They were telling me  where they were going to put them and how much they meant.  We spent most of the day talking to each Veteran Artist, how they made their art and what it meant to them.

We also got to spend some time with AnnMarie and Tiff and Matthew and April.  Matthew sang for us and April is an Army Veteran.  They are married and their story is truly a love story, both in wheel chairs and both of them taking care of each other and veterans.  We had snacks to eat and AnnMarie and Tiff stocked us up for the ride home.

When we finished at the Memorial, we jumped in our cars and off to the WW I Memorial.  There were crazy people everywhere around the monuments and Traffic everywhere.  We must have seen 30 food trucks just lining the streets.  We did luck out and get a parking place in front of the Memorial.  We saw Jari right down the way and walked to meet him.  We have actually known about each other for years but never met in person.  He was partly dressed in his uniform.  I took his hand and started to talk and he said he wanted to get in his uniform.  He was dressing in WW I uniform to perform Taps.  He asked if we could do it in front of the Memorial and we all agreed.  It was great to spend a little time to talk Bugle.  He asked me to stand on top of the hill next to where he was to play.  As he played and I saluted, I thought to myself that this must be what it is like when I play and others watch.  It was a beautiful Taps and a perfect end to a long day.

I was very honored to be able to honor our veterans today.  I was told this week that our quilts save more lives than we know.  So ladies and gents this is what your work does.  Be proud of all you do as it is important.

We head home tomorrow morning (Sunday) at 0’Dark-Thirty but honored and proud of Quilts of Honor.

God’s Blessings,

Gail