This Memorial Day marks the four-year anniversary of the Lost Heroes Art Quilt, my personal tribute to the men and women who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Having experienced loss in my own life, I wanted to acknowledge the overwhelming sense of loss and grief and, at the same time, find a way to honor and celebrate the lives of those who have so selflessly sacrificed to protect our freedoms.
Why an art quilt? The quilt-making tradition has bound women together across time and cultures. The mothers of America’s fallen heroes have a deep connection to one another through the loss of their children. An art quilt thus seemed to present the perfect medium for a memorial tribute.
The quilt honors the memory of those who protect our freedoms and reminds us of the individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It would have been impossible to create a work large enough to recognize each and every life that has been lost. Instead, the quilt focuses on the traits, interests, and accomplishments of one hero from each of the 50 states.
Since the quilt began its journey across America in September 2009, many caring, dedicated people have found ways to express their gratitude. Whenever we needed something, the right people or the right organization came along to answer our need. Southwest Airlines Cargo (SWA Cargo) is one of the amazing organizations we now call our “Angels.”
At the beginning of the quilt’s journey, my husband, Paul, I, and two Gold Star families -- the Heckers and the Martins – struggled physically and financially to move the large cases used to transport the quilt to various exhibition venues. It was a daunting challenge since we had hoped to display the quilt in museums and State Capitol buildings in all 50 states. Just as we were losing steam, SWA Cargo stepped in and agreed to fly the entire exhibit to Southwest destinations across the United States! Since then, SWA Cargo Employees have helped transport the quilt to more than 20 locations. For us, it has been a blessing to know that our precious quilt is being safely transported in Southwest’s caring hands.
The Lost Heroes Art Quilt project has given me a great gift -- the knowledge that the quilt has brought comfort to families who have lost so much. As the ten-year commemoration of 9/11 approaches, the memory of these fallen heroes is close to my heart and I hope those of you reading my blog will reflect upon their service and sacrifice. If you see someone in uniform, please go up, shake their hand, and thank them for their service. And should you meet a Gold Star family member (families whose loved ones served in the military during the period including the build-up to the war in Iraq [fall, 2002] to the present, and have died), know that a kind word or a hug will go a long way. Letting these families know that you are thinking of their loved ones can mean the world.
To learn more about the Lost Heroes Art Quilt and to view the upcoming schedule for the remainder of the quilt’s journey, please visit: www.LostHeroesArtQuilt.org
Video credited to Adam Hecker