After spending the weekend sharing our Irish quilt exhibits from National Quilting Week of Ireland at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, we found a special way to say thank you for allowing us to be a part of this amazing Irish celebration.
I approached Brian Witt, the Director of the Cultural Exhibit area about the possibility of presenting a few Quilts of Valor to veterans who are also volunteers at Irish Fest and he was quick to say yes! We surprised three gentlemen with red, white and blue quilts at the end of the festival. One of the quilts was made from star blocks that were collected by Carol Cricenti from quilters across the country. The other two quilt tops were made by Carol and all three quilts were machine quilted by me. The Quilts of Valor program was started back in 2003 and had awarded over 100,000 quilts to our very deserving veterans since that time.
I'll be the first to admit that I was quite naïve about the sacrifices our soldiers make until 2004 when my own 18 year old son, Josh, joined the Air Force, and the word "deployment" became a regular part of our vocabulary. Finding a way to give back and support our military has become something very important to me. Carol, a long time supporter of our military, has "adopted" hundreds of soldiers over the years in the Soldier's Angel program (including Josh) and is now a quilter (thanks to my influence) and leads a Facebook group of over 400 quilters in creating quilts for veterans.
We were able to present Ed, a 90 year old WWII veteran, and Mike, a Viet Nam War veteran with their own Quilts of Valor on Sunday night as a part of the Scattering, the finale event of Irish Fest. On Monday before leaving Milwaukee, we also presented Bruce, another veteran of the Viet Nam War, with his own Quilt of Valor as well.
What an amazing opportunity ...honor...and privilege to say Thank You to these three gentlemen!