At least 18 veterans received a quilt from Quilters with a Heart, the local chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, during a ceremony at the First United Methodist Church Killeen on Saturday.
Laura Winckel, group leader for Quilters with a Heart, said the presentation was intentionally held on 9/11 and recognized service members who served in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“With everything that’s been going on worldwide and, in our country, I wanted to thank all of you,” Winckel said. “We appreciate the fact that I have the freedom to come here today, you have the freedom to come here today, and I could ultimately thank you for your service.”
Winckel said the top of the quilt’s colors and shapes represent the communities and individuals. The center of the quilts symbolizes the hope that the quilt will bring comfort, peace, and healing to the recipients. The backing represents the strength of the recipients. Finally, the stitches represent the love, gratitude, and tears of the quiltmakers.
Retired Col. Hank Perry, former Fort Hood garrison commander and III Corps chief of staff, said he was nominated to receive a quilt by Jean Shine, a local Realtor and civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army.
“Being the 20th anniversary of 9/11 today, it’s an emotional day, a day of reflection for me to think about the career that I’ve had,” Perry said. “Thank you to the Quilt of Valor Foundation for recognizing all these patriots that are here in this room.”
Retired Staff Sgt. John Braun, who served for 23 years in the U.S. Army, was also nominated by Shine. Braun said he felt a rush of emotions when he learned he was nominated to receive a quilt.
“I actually, believe it or not, busted a tear,” Braun said. “I thought, ‘Wow! What an honor. This is like the day I retired.”
Winckel said anyone can nominate a veteran, become a member of the group, or offer donations. For more information, contact Winckel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-681-8239.