The Blount County Quilters Guild honored 13 U. S. military veterans last Thursday at Palisades Park by presenting each with a handmade quilt as part of its Quilts of Valor ceremony.
The veterans (pictured standing, from left to right) are: Army Sgt. James Stephens , Oneonta; Army and Air Force Pfc. Elvin Williams, Cleveland; Army Staff Sgt. Leroy Wright, Horton; Air Force Tech Sgt. Larry Battles, Oneonta; Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Fondren, Center Point; Jared Hudson, Navy, Sterrett; and Army Spc. Reggie Murphree, Oneonta. Seated (left to right) are: Ann Franks (accepting on behalf of her son-in-law 1st Sgt. Michael Seaman, Alabama National Guard); Army Cpl. and Navy Pharmacist Mate James Taylor, Remlap; Air Force Master Sgt. Gary Rogers, Pinson; Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Don Gray, Santuck, and Peggy Leveck (accepting for her deceased husband, Army Lt. George Leveck, Remlap). Army Sgt. Chad Hooper, Cullman, was unable to attend, but will receive his quilt soon.
The quilts handed out this year were made by Guild members Ruth Davis, Phyllis Morse, Sharon Montgomery, Nancy Kourmoulis, Suzanne Fornaro, Donna Theiss and Margie Calamusa. One quilt was donated by the family of Mae Brandt.
The Blount County Quilters Guild, which formed in 1988 and has a cabin headquarters at the park, began giving quilts to veterans several years ago, but this is the fifth year they have done so with a formal presentation. Lt. Colonel John Michael (Mike) Taylor from the Alabama Air National Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing spoke to the gathering of veterans, family and friends. He talked about the honorees’ dedication, service and sacrifice that allows everyone to enjoy the freedoms this country provides. His remarks were followed by a flag folding ceremony performed by the Honor Guard from the 117th.
Providing quilts for our veterans was an idea that formed in the mind of Catherine Roberts of Delaware in 2003 when her own son was deployed to Iraq. Roberts believed that in some way “quilts = healing” and she started the Quilts of Valor Foundation that has become a nationwide program. Their stated mission is “to cover all those service members and veterans wounded physically or psychologically with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” For more info about the foundation’s work, go to www.qovf.org. You can follow the Blount County Quilters Guild on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/231119840283819/.