Quilts of Valor honor area veterans

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Eight local veterans received Quilts of Valor at a presentation in Luana by the Northeast Iowa Quilt Guild the evening of Nov. 3. Pictured with Quilts of Valor volunteers Joni Johnson (back, far left) and Sue Lynch (front, far right) are recipients (front, left to right) Laura Moore, Eric Benzing; (back) David Scott, Terry Sharp, Dallas Valley, Richard Augustine, Budd Tieman and Robert Dull. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

These four local veterans received Quilts of Valor at a presentation in Luana by the Northeast Iowa Quilt Guild the afternoon of Nov. 3. Pictured (from left) are Leigh Rekow, John Henry Muller, Norman Mueller and Clyde Thompson. (Submitted photo)

Marines Corp veteran Kurt Kravchuk, of Prairie du Chien, received a Quilt of Valor Saturday from the Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild, represented by Sue Lynch. He accepted it in honor of Barton D. Bonn, a Persian Gulf veteran who was Kravchuk's inspiration for joining the Marines. (Photo by Correne Martin)

Veteran Budd Tieman, of Prairie du Chien, receives his Quilt of Valor from Sue Lynch, Northeast Iowa Quilt Guild program chair. (Submitted photo)

Veteran Dallas Valley, of Prairie du Chien, is thanked by a well-wisher during a Quilt of Valor presentation Nov. 3. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Correne Martin and Audrey Posten

When a Quilt of Valor is presented to a veteran, it is typically draped over him or her to symbolize a hug. It is meant to honor and comfort service members and those touched by war or conflict. Last week, 13 patriotic quilts were awarded to area veterans of different military branches and war eras by the Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild. The majority were given at special ceremonies on Nov. 3.

In one of the biggest Quilt of Valor presentations by the guild, those veterans in northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin receiving quilts included:

•Budd Tieman, Prairie du Chien, Navy, Vietnam

•Dallas Valley, Prairie du Chien, Army National Guard, Vietnam

•Laura Moore, Prairie du Chien, Crawford County Veterans Service Officer, Army, Persian Gulf

•Kurt Kravchuk, Prairie du Chien, Marines, served 1982-86—in honor of Barton D. Bonn, Marines, Persian Gulf (presented privately Saturday)

•Terry Sharp, Marquette, Army, Bay of Pigs

•David Scott, McGregor, Army, Vietnam (Purple Heart)

•Richard Augustine, Monona, Marines, Korea

•John Henry Muller, Monona, Army, Korea

•Clyde Thompson, Monona, Army, Korea

•Eric Benzing, Monona, Iowa National Guard, Afghanistan—in honor of Raymond Dirksen, Navy, WWII

•Norman Mueller, Luana, Army, Korea

•Robert Dull, Postville, Navy, Korea

•Leigh Rekow, Postville, Army, Korea

Since its inception in 2003, when quilter and blue star mother Catherine Roberts came up with the idea of using quilts to comfort veterans while her son was deployed in Iraq, over 126,000 quilts have been registered with the Quilts of Valor Foundation.

“They have served our country. It’s the least we can do,” noted Sue Lynch, Prairie du Chien resident and program chair of the guild.

A Quilt of Valor is granted as an award, not a gift, as a thank you for serving the country and shouldn’t be given away.

“It used to be that they were only awarded to the wounded but, now, so many have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), the wounds you can’t see,” Lynch said. “So they changed the rules. And the veterans don’t have to have served overseas.”

They are made and donated entirely by volunteers, sometimes by just one quilter and other times by a group effort such as the quilters guild or a block drive. They don’t have to be red, white and blue but they commonly are. To qualify as a Quilt of Valor Foundation piece, each must be a minimum of 55 inches by 65 inches.

“They should be washed the first time before they’re awarded, to take out excess dyes and to wash the dirt from [the quilters’] hands,” Lynch explained.

Sometimes, the quilts are given within a pillowcase as a presentation case. Lynch said she uses an average of 10 yards of fabric—mostly cottons and polyesters—to complete one quilt. Popular patterns used may include the carpenter star, the Ohio star, friendship star, eight-pointed star and string panels. Some may look similar but all are different in fabrics, colors, patterns and quilting designs.

Each Quilt of Valor has a label attached to the bottom corner of the underside with the veteran’s name, the name of the group awarding it, the date of presentation and the type of quilt.

Generally, the quilts are awarded during special ceremonies around Memorial Day or Veterans Day, at big events or at places like nursing homes or schools. They can also be given privately. Lynch said all veterans are very pleased to receive Quilts of Valor. “Their reactions vary, from very humbled to their face being red. Some shed tears,” she said. “A lot of them say they didn’t realize anybody cared.”

Quilts of Valor have become more prevalent in the region in the last year or so, Lynch pointed out. She said there are groups that organize presentations in Platteville and Bellevue in Wisconsin and in Monona, Waukon, New Albin and Decorah in Iowa.

The Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild meets monthly in Luana. To learn more about how you can donate materials or funds toward the Quilts of Valor, contact Lynch at (608) 306-0924. For more information, visit QOVF.org or find the Quilts of Valor Foundation on Facebook.

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