As we approach the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, I thought this quilt story from AQ reader Kathleen Schumacher was especially relevant. Thank you to pattern designer Trisha Cribbs for giving her permission to publish Kathleen’s photo here.
Though not the first quilt I ever started, the first one I ever completed was a Wounded Warrior Quilt.
In August 2009, I attended my first meeting of the Hi Desert Quilt Guild and learned about the Wounded Warrior Quilt Project. I left that night with my head and heart overflowing with ideas. The next day I chose a group of pink, mauve, tan, and olive fabrics with quiet, restful designs. For the pattern I chose Turning Twenty, designed by Tricia Cribbs, an easy one that wouldn’t overtax my tenuous beginner’s spirit.
As I sewed along on my baby blue, 50-year-old secondhand Singer that was only able to go forward and do nothing else, I thought over and over of the young woman I’d met back in the spring of 2002.
One quiet morning in the shoe area of our local department store, I found myself standing next to a young woman; both of us peered listlessly at a row of nondescript shoes. We looked up, smiled at each other, and engaged in a bit of small talk. I noticed she was on crutches and in a cast that covered her entire leg from ankle to hip. Concerned, I asked if she‘d been in a car accident. She said she hadn’t. She’d had numerous surgeries and would be having yet more in the future. We continued to share our thoughts, and the conversation came around to her telling me that she was in the military. I told her about my son who was at that time a submariner in the Navy. Eventually I asked where she was stationed.
“The Pentagon,” she answered.
My heart stood still and we looked deeply into one another’s eyes. I asked if she would be returning to duty there. She looked down, shook her head, and replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
I understood. We both sighed. I told her I hoped she would heal and that she would be happy. Her shy smile imprinted on my heart as we turned our separate ways and continued with our day. Tears rode up the back of my eyes.
So I made this first Wounded Warrior Quilt with memories of a brave young woman. Stitched into every seam were the hopes and prayers that it would one day bring some small comfort to another sweet soul who would give so much of herself to protect and preserve the freedoms I hold dear.
On the label I embroidered “With Gratitude.” I meant it with all my heart.
Posted by Christine N. Brown, American Quilter magazine editor-in-chief