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Archive for November, 2019

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

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