The National Quilt Museum and Quilts of Valor honored veterans earlier this week by giving the patriotic quilts that made up the To Honor and Comfort exhibit to 34 veterans of war.
The exhibit at the Paducah, Kentucky museum featured premium examples of patriotic quilts made for the Quilts of Valor organization, which seeks to provide every soldier who saw combat with a healing quilt of valor to honor them for their service. To Honor and Comfort wrapped on November 10, and on Veterans Day the quilts were each draped around the shoulders of a veteran to a standing room only crowd of more than 300.
“It was a very moving event for everybody,” said Ann Rehbein, executive director of Quilts of Valor. “We had all ranges of service from WWII to currently serving and there were a lot of stories there. People who actually made the quilt or quilted the top were there to present it and that made it extra special.”
Rehbein said unless a quilter makes a quilt especially for a veteran they know, it is rare for the quilter or longarmer to meet the veteran who receives the quilt. She believed having that connection at the To Honor and Comfort ceremony at The National Quilt Museum added extra significance for both the quilt makers and veterans.
“For the recipient it added a degree of meaning of actually knowing that somebody spent hours to do that for them and for the quilt maker and the quilt quilter I think it meant a lot to hear the recipients’ story. You don’t very often get that opportunity.”
Rehbin said the response of veterans nominated to receive a quilt of valor is almost always a humble assertion that there are others who are more deserving and the soldiers who didn’t make it home are the real heroes. But when the quilt is draped around their shoulders they are moved with emotion.
“They get very emotional when that quilt is wrapped around them because they finally know someone cares,” Rehbin said. “They may have never heard, thank you for your service.”
The exhibit at The National Quilt Museum was the first time Quilts of Valor partnered with a museum to showcase the cause and the quilts being made for veterans. Both organizations felt the exhibit helped advance both its missions, exposing Quilts of Valor to a wider audience and exposing veterans and their families to quilting as an art form.
“The museum was honored to host The Quilts of Valor exhibit and the Veterans Day event, said Frank Bennett, CEO of The National Quilt Museum. “The museum’s mission is to bring the work of today’s quilter to new audiences. The Quilts of Valor exhibit brought thousands of veterans into the museum many of which were experiencing quilting at this level for the first time.”