12 Quilts of Valor awarded
"These women have put their hearts, time and talents into these quilts."
That was a comment coming from Chris Butler, originator of the Quilts of Valor program in Blooming Prairie. Butler was paying tribute to the many women who hand crafted 12 quilts for members of the military.
Since Veterans Day on Nov. 11, 2014, the local quilting group has made 162 Quilts of Valor and given them ceremonially to deserving members of the military.
As each service man and woman received their quilt, pride swelled in the recipients and with their families who were part of the 225 present at a special Veterans Day program Monday night, Nov. 11 at the Blooming Prairie Servicemen's Club.
Joyce Johns, president of VFW Post 878 of Blooming Prairie, served as emcee for the Quilts of Valor program.
Prior to the ceremony, Johns introduced leaders of the five service organizations in Blooming Prairie: Joyce Johns, president of the VFW Auxiliary; Bruce Kubicek, commander of American Legion Post 52; Brian Hoveland, commander of VFW Post 878; Becky Noble, president of the American Legion Auxiliary and Joe Motl, commander of the Sons of the American Legion.
Johns also paid tribute to Andrew Kubista who just returned from deployment in Kuwait.
American Legion Auxiliary and VFW Auxiliary members Barb Blome and Vikki Wacek provided a touching ceremony about the POW/MIA soldiers.
Johns then introduced Tom Peterson, chairman of the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial Committee. Peterson and many others participated in a dedication ceremony for the memorial earlier in the day.
"This memorial is beautiful, awesome and impressive," said Johns.
Peterson then took the microphone and said, "I thought when we were done, we were done but we're not done yet," said Peterson, explaining that additional funds over the goal of $250,000 are being used for murals and blacktop of the Memorial area.
"This was happy work," Peterson said in referring to the project which involved many service members and many business, volunteer organizations and industrial people in the community. Many individuals also contributed to making the memorial a reality.
Peterson also acknowledged Terry and Suzie Buchetti from Idaho who donated $10,000 on Veterans Day.
Buchetti spoke and tossed compliments to Peterson for his efforts. Speaking to the gathering, he said, "You people are truly blessed to have a man like Tom Peterson leading this effort." Peterson then received a Standing Ovation from the audience.
Next on the program was the introduction of the Quilts of Valor recipients.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation was started with a Blue Star mother, Catherine Roberts of Seaford, Delaware in 2003. The first quilt the foundation made was for a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost a leg in Iraq in 2003.
The first two recipients were introduced by Johns and invited to bring their families up front. Johns was part of the families because the first two recipients were her brothers.
Marilyn Meshke of the VFW Auxiliary introduced the remaining 10 recipients and told who pieced the quilt and who quilted it.
The Quilts of Valor theme reads: "May this quilt keep you safe from harm. May it be your good luck charm. What you hold in your arms. . .is a quilters' embrace."
Here's the roll call of who received the Quilts of Valor:
1. Ronald Lewison: Ron's quilt was pieced by Bev Hoveland and quilted by Bev Wacek.
2. Gerald Lewison: Gerald's quilt was pieced by Bev Hoveland and quilted by Bev Wacek.
3. Larry Otto: Larry's quilt was pieced by Chris Butler and quilted by Calico Hutch.
4. Larry Wencl: Larry's quilt was pieced by Shirley Nelson and quilted by Bev Wacek.
5. Charles Stoelk: Charles' quilt was pieced by Chris Butler and quilted by Chris Butler.
6. Andrew Kubista: Andy's quilt was pieced by Lucy Post and quilted by Bev Wacek.
7. Greg Skillestad: Greg's quilt was pieced by Chris Butler and quilted by Bev Wacek.
8. Don Skillestad: Don's quilt was pieced by Diane Anderson and quilted by Calico Hutch.
9. Richard Jensen: Richard's quilt was pieced by Shirley Greeley and quilted by Gina Larson.
10. Kathy Samuelson: Kathy's quilt was pieced by Marilyn Meshke and quilted by Bev Wacek.
11. Gilman Peterson: Gilman's quilt was pieced by Marti Walters and quilted by Bev Wacek.
12. Ron Janning: Ron's quilt was pieced by Shirley Nelson and quilted by Bev Wacek.
"Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor," remarked Meshke in directing her comments to the Quilts of Valor recipients.