This weekend I had the honor of volunteering for registration of the annual meeting for the families of Iowa’s Fallen. This event was organized by a wonderful organization called Iowa Remembers and is for families that have suffered the great loss of a service member who has passed away by being killed in action, suicide, or accident.
My drive to the meeting was very emotional, I knew I was going to be looking into the eyes of family members who lost a loved one defending our freedom. Being a military spouse, this was especially moving.
I felt extremely honored to be asked to volunteer for this meeting and felt that I was ready for the day, but I was taken by surprise when I arrived and saw all the beautiful hanging quilts. This was a very small group, under 50 people and I was not expecting to see quilts here. The quilts were personal memorial quilts made by Freedom Quilts, a non-profit founded by Betty Nielson from Iowa. Betty has given over 7,000 quilts away!
The stories behind these quilts were breathtaking. Betty meets with the grieving family members to get a sense of who these soldiers were as people and what they enjoyed; what made these men and women who they are. One example is the block to the left. This soldier gave his mother a teddy bear with his voice recording, “Hey Mom, I miss you, I love you very much with all my heart. I’ll be home soon, please don’t be upset, I love you.” This soldier never made it home and the mother had this wonderful bear with her sons voice on it. Betty decided to embroider the bear and the saying onto the memorial quilt.
Here is the full quilt. The teddy bear block is the top left. There are also pictures of this
young man as a child, an image of the tattoo that was on his back (picture of Jesus dying on the cross), his favorite t-shirt, embroidery of his favorite things, and quotes. After viewing this quilt, I feel like I knew this young man a bit more.
Memorial Quilt made by Betty Nielson
My husband had the honor of working next to CSM Marilyn Gabbard who was killed in action January 20, 2007. To the left are Marilyn’s mother and sister who attended the meeting. Her sister has made 12 quilts similar to the one she is holding for family members and has 5 more quilts in the works for additional family members.
Betty would love your help honoring the service members who have died protecting our freedom by giving their family members a memory quilt. If you would like more information on how to help Betty and her cause, please visit www.FreedomQuilts.net.
Thank you –
Kristi – Publisher