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Five Local Veterans Honored With Quilts of Valor

Five of Watauga County’s heroes are covered with their Quilts of Valor, thanks to local volunteer seamstresses who donated time and talent as an expression of their gratitude. Photo by Sherrie Norris

By Sherrie Norris

In an impressive ceremony on Wednesday morning, June 14, at the American Legion/DAV building in Boone, five deserving veterans from Watauga County were honored with Quilts of Valor for their military service.

Terry Ellis, Jim Lookabill, A. R. Moody, Charlie Norris and David Williams each received a beautiful quilt that had been made by volunteers from the Boone Quilts of Valor, a chapter of the national QOV organization. Williams and Lookabill had actually received their quilts earlier, but missed an official presentation due to the Covid pandemic. 

Presenting the quilts was Kathy Heisler, local group coordinator, and Faye Williams, a gifted seamstress, who have helped rally other volunteers in the area to complete these treasured awards.

Accompanying the women was Heisler’s husband, Eric Heisler, a Marine Vietnam veteran, who in full Scottish regalia, performed two inspirational songs on the bagpipes.

A. R. Moody proudly displays his Quilt of Valor, which helps tell the story of his military service; the added artwork provided by his wife and daughter-in-law, depicts the history of the  US Army’s 11th Calvary Regiment, in which he served during the Vietnam War. Photo by Sherrie Norris.

To the veterans Heisler said, “It is with honor that we are here today to make these presentations. First, we want to thank you for your service, to offer you this small token from our grateful hearts for your willingness to leave home, to stand in harm’s way on behalf of all of us — those you know and those you will never meet.”

Secondly, Heisler stated, “These quilts are presented to honor the sacrifices you and your families have made for all of us. We know when one family member goes to war, the family that waits sacrifices for us, as well.”

Finally, Heisler concluded, “This quilt is given to offer comfort and warmth, as only a quilt can. We hope you will let it warm you when you are cold, offer comfort whenever reflections may cause you pain, and above all, that it will serve as a reminder of the loving hearts and talented hands who are honored to thank you with this quilt.”

Heisler said that every quilt tells a story.

“Your quilt began in the hands of several quilters from Boone who provided blocks from a request by Sew Original Quilt Store. There is truly no other quilt exactly like yours, and today, the story of this quilt becomes your story.”

Each quilt was inscribed with the name of its veteran, Heisler added, “so that it may serve to let future generations of your family know what you have done for this country.”

Added to the quilt of A. R. Moody was also the story of his military service, he described, a work of art depicting history of the US Army’s 11th Calvary Regiment, in which he served during the Vietnam War. 

“His wife and daughter-in-law, both aware that he was receiving a quilt, provided this addition for us to include,” Heisler said.

Local veterans A. R. Moody, Charlie Norris, Terry Ellis, David Williams and Jim Lookabill, received beautiful quilts and certificates of appreciation on Wednesday from the Boone Quilts of Valor #77800, area chapter of the national Quilts of Valor Foundation. The quilts were presented by BQOV members, Faye Williams and Kathy Heisler. Photo by Sherrie Norris

More About Quilts of Valor

According to Heisler, the Boone group has been a part of the national Quilts of Valor Foundation for almost two years.  

Currently celebrating its 20th year, it all began in 2003 literally from a dream, Heisler said, referring to the organization’s history and founder, Catherine Roberts, whose son, Nat, was deployed in Iraq at the time.

“The dream was as vivid as real life,” shared Roberts. “I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair. I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter. 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 quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was:  Quilts = Healing.”

The model appeared simple, Roberts added: have a volunteer team who would donate their time and materials to make a quilt. One person would piece the top and the other would quilt it. 

“I saw the name for this special quilt: it was Quilt of Valor, a QOV.”

And from that dream was born one of the most compassionate projects a veteran (of combat) could hope for, and the mission was put into action: To cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

Quilts of Valor representatives Kathy Heisler, far right, and Faye Williams from Boone Quilts of Valor, cover veteran Jim Lookabill with his quilt “to offer comfort and warmth,” whenever reflections (of war) may cause pain, as fellow veterans Terry Ellis and David Williams look on. Photo by Sherrie Norris.

To meet specifications, a Quilt of Valor must be a quality, handmade quilt that is machine or hand quilted and must be within or close to a recommended size of 60 x 80-inches (minimum is 55 x 65-inches, maximum is 72 x 90-inches;) it should be of adult-appropriate,100-percent cotton, quilt-weight fabric; it must include a label with required information about the veteran. It must be awarded (it is not a gift) and it must be recorded. 

A Quilt of Valor does not have to be red, white and blue, but patriotic colors are extremely popular with recipients. Quilters are encouraged to “think creatively” with the recipient in mind.

To date, QOVF has awarded over 345,000 quilts across the country, Heisler said. 

Recipients of the quilts are nominated by family members, friends and associates. A simple nomination form is available and can be completed through the organization’s website (see below).

To date, the Boone group has fulfilled all local requests for quilts.

Volunteers and Donations Needed

How can we, as a community, help?  The local Boone chapter, #77800, which meets and works together twice a month at Sew Original in Boone, could use donations of money, quilt blocks, supplies and especially, volunteer seamstresses/quilters.

“We really could not do this without the help of our donors and volunteers,” Heisler said, adding a public ‘thank you’ to the Watauga County American Legion and DAV posts for their recent donations totaling $1,250.

For more information, visit seworiginal.org and search for the Quilt of Valor tab; to learn more about the foundation, in general, and/or to nominate a veteran for a quilt, vsit qovf.org, or call Kathy Heisler at 727-992-7983.