Wrapping veterans in the warmth of love with quilts of valor

GRAFTON—The Christian Sisters Quilters held their first annual Quilt of Valor Presentation on Sunday.

The presentation was held at First Grace Brethren Church located in Grafton.

Quilts of Valor is a non-profit foundation with the mission to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

The presentation began with a welcome from Pastor Michael Willis, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem sung by Lakin Nose.

He introduced the club members Carolyn Bee, Bobbie Bolyard, Jo Carder, Linda Coole, Diane Cox, Patty Cox, Patty Ford, Camilla Gawthrop, Sheryl Isner, Mary Radcliff, Alice Rogers, Anna Jane Shriver, Jane Trickett and Becky Willis.

Next in the presentation was a time of reflection.

Willis reminisced of the days when he and the club members used to march in the Memorial Day parade.

“We would wear white and walk down the stairs to decorate the graves with flowers,” he voiced.

“This is a time of reflection when we remember how freedom is not free, so many have sacrificed for us to be here today,” expressed Willis.

Willis shared that he would like to read a letter written by John Isner, a 17-year-old that won the Memorial Day essay contest in 1965.

He recited, “I’ve been many places, to many I am a symbol of the enemy, but to many more I am the symbol of hope, peace and freedom. They call me old glory.”

“I am your flag, but I am a special flag. I have a special duty, I may not be as acclaimed as a flag that flies over our nations capitol or the home of our president, but I wouldn’t trade my post of duty for all of the noted places in the land. You see, I watch over hollow ground at a National Cemetery in a small town peaceful city of Grafton, WV,” he continued.

“The sun is rising above the hills and soon floods the valley with warmth and light. It’s rays swept across the place of rest and the small markers row after row stranded in ridged formation.

They did not leave their homes to be heroes, but in their return they have given the greatest gift of all, their lives. I feel proud to guard this cemetery.”

Willis read on, “As they walk past the rows of fallen men they are proud, as I am proud. For I see below me, men of all races, creeds and origins and I say, you are honored old glory to be in Grafton.

Why would men some just lads leave their homes, wives and loved ones to fight? To leave life so rich and full to return only to lie in silence along the rows of marble white.”

“Then I see laughing children play, lovers walking hand in hand and a newborn baby tended by a first time mother and I know why they did. So I may wave over a free America and that yours would be, the home of the free and the brave.

Row upon row they sleep below me forget them not, and when at the setting sun, when the sky’s cast a redden glow I like you we remember that sunset of their lives was the to let the sun rise to ours,” he finished.

Club member Trickett shared that the club was started in 2004 with the purpose of covering service members and veterans touched by war and honoring them for their sacrifices.

According to Trickett, over the past four years the club has presented six quilts to veterans in other counties.

She shared, “This past year, we decided we wanted to honor veterans in Taylor County. We had a booth set up at the Taylor County Fair. Veterans had the opportunity to put their names in a drawing to win a quilt.”

The Quilts of Valor Recipients were Specialist E4 Jon Cochran US Army, Specialist E5 Brooke Russell US Army, Specialist E4 Viola C. Harris US Army and Petty Officer 1st Class David Lanham US Navy.

Trickett presented recipients with a plaque, quilt and thanked him or her for their service.

The presentation was the first annual, but club members want to continue this tradition for many years to come.