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Honor, freedom, and comfort stitched into each Quilt of Valor presented to veteran

Quilt of Valor

This Floating Wonky Star Quilt of Valor is one of two Quilts of Valor that hangs in a veterans exhibit at The Falls on the Colorado Museum, 2001 Broadway in Marble Falls. It will be on display through November. The required fabrics and how to create the blocks can be found on the Quilts of Valor Foundation website. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The Llano chapter of the Texas Hills Quilters Quilts of Valor is two groups in one, said member Betsye Rose of Burnet. As a quilting club, it meets Mondays to sew at The Country Quilt Shop, 100 E. Exchange Place in Llano. For Quilts of Valor, members stitch together three layers of love, respect, and gratitude into cloth comfort for the nation’s veterans. 

Rose will explain the concept and rules behind Quilts of Valor as the guest speaker of the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild when it meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, in the fellowship hall at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive. 

“The quilts we present, they are not charity quilts or blankets,” Rose said. “They are awarded, not handed out. They cannot be bought.” 

The quilts are never presented on a birthday or holiday. They are civilian awards given for an individual’s service to the country. To be an official Quilt of Valor, it must be a certain size and include a label with specific information, and its presentation must be recorded by a certified Quilt of Valor chapter.

The quilts are presented in ceremonies usually staged at local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts. The local chapter of the national foundation has made and presented 585 quilts since its inception in 2014. Nationally, as of Oct. 31, 2021, the Quilts of Valor Foundation has given 286,178 quilts to veterans since it began in 2003.

“The Quilts of Valor was first formed by a woman named Catherine Roberts whose son was deployed to Iraq,” Rose said. “She was very concerned and worried over him and wanted to know how she could make him feel more at home, more at peace.” 

The idea came from a dream Roberts had one night — not about her son, Nat, but a soldier hunched over in despair. 

“I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter,” Roberts wrote on the Quilts of Valor Foundation website. “Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and well-being.”

The message, she said, is that quilts can equal healing. 

“It’s a way to provide peace or say thank you for service,” Rose said. “The foundation, the quilts, represent one person reaching out and touching another in trying circumstances.”

The three layers represent “a three-part message from our hearts,” Rose continued. 

The many colors, shapes, and fabrics of the first layer, which is the pieced, top layer, represent the communities and people that make up the United States. 

The batting in the middle, or second layer, provides warmth and softness. It represents the hope that the quilt will bring comfort, peace, and healing to the veteran receiving it. 

The back of the quilt, the third layer, holds the entire quilt together. It represents the strength of the recipient and the support of the family, community, and nation for the veteran. 

Each quilt’s three layers represent a three-part message from the givers to the recipient: honor, freedom, and comfort. 

“Freedom is not free,” reads the website. “The cost of freedom is the dedication of lives of men and women like you, and this quilt is meant to say thank you for your service.” 

The quilts go to veterans who have been touched by war. Nominations are made online and honored in the order they are received, although exceptions are made for older veterans or those with health issues. Anyone can nominate a veteran for a quilt. 

“All of our quilts are made through fabric or monetary donations,” Rose said. “We use the money to buy fabric. We are all volunteers.”