Have you ever seen someone wearing a Gold Star, and wondered what this symbol represents? Maybe you saw the movie “Saving Private Ryan” and remember the Gold Star Banner hanging in the window of the Ryan home at the beginning of the film? That star indicates that a family has lost a loved one in service to our country.
As the mother of a fallen hero, I have one of those Gold Star pins. Two and a half years ago I became involved in a project that honors the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is called the Lost Heroes Art Quilt, and it’s an amazing piece of work by artist Julie Feingold. The quilt consists of fifty squares depicting the image and story of one fallen hero from each state. My son, Army Major Bill Hecker, represents the state of Missouri on the quilt.
When I learned that Julie dreamed of sending the quilt around the country for all Americans to see, I volunteered to help her. I booked the venues and arranged the transportation for the quilt as it traveled from one state to the next.
Since the operating budget was non-existent, the first year of the quilt’s journey consisted of mostly Gold Star families moving it and incurring considerable expenses. It was our honor to do so, but I was beginning to wonder if we could keep it up for the second year.
Then, Southwest Airlines Cargo® heard our story. They immediately jumped in and offered to transport the entire quilt display, with complimentary shipping, to Southwest destinations across the United States! This was a HUGE blessing.
Thanks to Southwest Airlines and their amazing Employees, the quilt has traveled to 40 states and been on display in 68 different venues throughout its two-year journey. All those who viewed the quilt were deeply touched and privileged to see and experience it.
Today, Veterans Day, we are traveling to Washington, D.C., courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to attend the Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services (CAUSE) Gala and recognize the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice. CAUSE, which offers programs in support of our wounded warriors, is one of two charities that have been designated to receive $50,000 each from the proceeds from the sale of the quilt. Employees can visit the quilt at Arlington National Cemetery Visitors Center, which will be its permanent home after it’s gifted” to them on November 11. To learn more about the Lost Heroes Art Quilt, please visit www.lostheroesartquilt.org.
We at Southwest Airlines appreciate the honor and respect our Employees display for the injured and fallen soldiers. In honor of these men and women, please find some time to reflect upon their service and sacrifice. And, throughout the season of giving, consider donating to the CAUSE organization at Cause-usa.org/southwest or donate to the Lost Heroes Art Quilt project here.