A Universal Token
Gail Belmont is being recognized as a Champion of Change for her dedication to service and her continued support for fellow veterans.
As a Vietnam veteran and founding member of Quilts of Honor America, I am honored for the opportunity to support our warriors and veterans. My service in the Army began with playing Taps at the services of our fallen warriors and I have since found great duty and honor in being able to show my gratitude for those who have served and continue to serve our country. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be awarded a Champion of Change by the White House.
Cpl. George A. Burrows, USMC 1968-1969, wrote me with these words, “Thank You for the Quilt, it’s beautiful. It’s something I will not only use but will pass down to my grandson with the story of how I got it. What you people are doing means more than you could know to people like me. When I came home from Nam [Vietnam] we were not honored. This Quilt is MY WELCOME HOME!” His letter is a resounding sentiment that I have heard countless times. It is these words and other similar sentiments that have been our inspirations in forming and growing Quilts of Honor America.
Quilts of Honor are made by loving hands of volunteers who wish to present high-quality, handmade, and long-armed quilts as a token of honor in appreciation to our warriors and veterans. Our mission is to bestow a universal symbol and token of thanks, solace, and remembrance to those who serve, past and present, in harm's way to protect and defend our lives and freedoms. We exist to organize volunteers, who create patriotic quilts to be awarded to those who have willingly chosen to commit their lives to our country's safety and protection.
The stories and words of wisdom and gratitude from those we are lucky enough to honor touch our hearts and change our lives. It is their sentiments that encourage us to continue our mission. To know that we have touched the heart of one veteran or encouraged the morale of one warrior is an honor in and of itself. One such letter was sent to us from a particular marine that served in the 1/8th Marines. His letter came after we awarded 20 quilts to the surviving and active duty members of the 1/8th Marines. This unit lost a total of 30 men during Operation Enduring Freedom and many of the surviving men were suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He stated that upon receipt of our quilt he was overwhelmed with the same joy he experienced with the birth of his son. The honor of knowing we had cared enough to send him a token of our gratitude for his service had touched him so mightily he had wept.
More recently we received an e-mail from the mother of another Marine, this particular Marine is part of the 3/8 Marines (most of whom are between the ages of 18 and 19). The e-mail was entitled, "Long Overdue", and proceeded to explain that 2 years ago her son had received a quilt from QOH. Since that time, she had continued to follow our program onlineand in the newspapers, and she had finally decided to write with her sincerest thanks for our gift to her son. She told us how touched her son had been by our gift and that upon return of each tour or rest he would go to the bedroom where she kept his quilt and hold it in his arms for a while. She said that recently he had been deployed to Afghanistan and had asked her to watch over his quilt, and now she is the one who finds comfort in the quilt. Each time she experiences a day where she misses him unbearably, she goes to the bedroom and takes the quilt into her arms and holds it to feel closer to her son.
Each letter we receive and story we hear has encouraged us to continue furthering our growth and provide a morale boost for our troops and continued honor and healing to our veterans. We hope and pray that more people feel called to be involved in the creation and distribution of the quilts to those who deserve them most as they support and defend our freedom.
Gail Belmont is the founder and member of Quilts of Honor.