Each year members of the Peace by Piece Quilt Guild have the opportunity to honor a veteran. Quilters choose the veteran, or veterans, they want to recognize and then spend countless hours basting, blocking and piecing a quilt in honor of that person.
This year, the guild held its 7th annual Veteran’s Day program on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the First United Methodist Church in Scottsboro.
Ten veterans were chosen to receive quilts at this year’s event, though two were unable to attend.
Quilt Guild member Cynthia Dunn, who led the event, said many people spend their entire lives wondering if they ever make a difference, but veterans do not have that problem.
“They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting,” Dunn said. “Instead they were called to be a part of something bigger than oneself. They are ordinary people, who respond to extraordinary times in extraordinary ways.”
Dunn said gifting veterans with quilts is a way to honor the men and women for their bravery and sacrifice.
“We have awarded medals and ribbons to many service members, added their names to monuments and named buildings for them, honoring their bravery,” Dunn said. “Our gathering here today is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across our nation. It’s not a lot, but it is one small way we can honor you for your service.”
Dunn said the courage of the veterans has allowed Americans to live securely and warmly in our homes.
“In turn, we present you these quilts symbolizing that warmth and security. These quilts were made especially for you, by someone who wanted to honor you. Please accept and use these quilts in the spirit in which they were made and given. The warmth you feel from them is generated by the gratitude we feel thanking you for your courage and sacrifice,” Dunn said.
Veterans honored at Tuesday’s program were Douglas Beckner, Sunny Childress, Ralph Franklin, Chad Houze, Lawrence Johns, Lawrence Kee, Sheila Lozier and Samual Mash.
Douglas Beckner was the first to receive his quilt on Tuesday. Becker, a petty officer second class in the U.S. Navy, worked as an electricians mate on the USS Bainbridge in the Pacific, which was a nuclear powered guided missile cruiser and the only ship of her class. He served from 1967-1973 and said one of the proudest moments of his military career was when he graduated from the Naval Nuclear Power School in New York. Becker told the group in attendance that he doesn’t want people to forget the sacrifice veterans have made.
Sunny Childress was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and served in Vietnam. He was an aircraft crew chief mechanic and later worked at a pilot training station at Elgin Air Force Base, where he preflighted A 1 aircrafts. One of his best memories from the time he served was making a lifelong friend who he still keeps in contact with today. Childress served from 1967 to 1970.
Childress thanked Ann Barrett for recommending him for the opportunity to be recognized with a quilt.
“I thank all of you who put love into this quilt. I’m very appreciative,” Childress said. “I’m thankful the Lord gave me the opportunity to serve my country. My service to my country has added much to my life, and I’m very thankful for that.”
Ralph Franklin was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and did his basic training at Fort Bragg. He served from 1948-1954.
“What time I spent is a continuation of what had been done in our family,” Franklin said. “I had three brothers ahead of me (who served.) It was just something I felt necessary, and the right thing to do.”
Chad Houze was a petty officer second class in the U.S. Navy Seabees. He trained to be a heavy equipment officer and served in Saudi Arabia where he transported goods and built air strips. One of his best memories from his time served was seeing how much could be accomplished as a team. Houze served from 1988-1996.
“The Lord blessed me and let me be born in American” Houze said. “With that blessing, I felt I needed to serve my country.”
Lawrence Johns was a specialist in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg. He served stateside from 1962-1965 and was a crane shovel operator during the Vietnam era.
“It allowed me to grow up and be the person I am today,” Johns said. “I am thankful for that. I wouldn’t take a million dollars for it.”
Lawrence Kee was a a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. He served from 1962-1983 in Korea, Vietnam, North Carolina, the Pentagon and Hawaii. Kee worked in military intelligence and once learned that his entire unit had either been captured or killed during the Tet Offensive. It was his job to locate his intelligence operatives who were captured as POWs but was only able to locate two of his fellow soldiers after they had been in captivity for 23 days. During his service he was awarded several medals, including the Bronze Star, Army Accommodation Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster and Legion of Merit.
“The main thing I learned about life, particularly from Vietnam, is never take anything for granted,” Kee said. “Appreciate the things around you, and always tell the ones you love, because you never know whether they are going to be there tomorrow.”
Shelia Lozier was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army. She began her enlistment as a medic and later became an Army nurse. She served from 1975-2002 and served as a VA nurse.
“Thank you Katherine, for all of the hours that these quilts require. All the finger sticks and ripping out seams. I’m a quilter, not in the caliber that you guys are, but I appreciate all of the work,” Lozier said. “My greatest honor was the 30 years of being able to care for dying veterans as a hospice nurse in the VA. These men and women are incredible people, and they have incredible stories. It’s just too bad that we don’t often take the time to listen to their stories, but I challenge all of you to listen to these stories.”
Samuel Mash was a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army. He was a combat engineer battalion equipment supervisor serving in Iraq. He also served as a maintenance supervisor for a transportation company in Iraq. Mash served from 1978-2005.
“I would like to thank you for this honor today,” Mash said. “Thank everybody who worked on the quilts. When I was in Iraq and Kuwait I did a lot of business with Kuwait, and everywhere I went and everything I did, Kuwait people treated American soldiers like gold. I said when I got home that I was never treated better as an American soldier than I was in Kuwait. They did not forget what the Americans had done for them. It was an amazing experience, but I can’t say that anymore. I can say the greatest I’ve ever been treated as an American soldier is today, so thank you very much.”
Following the ceremony, Veterans took photos with the quilter who made their quilt and were treated to a reception.