The Forest Acres Quilting Club had the great honor of awarding four Quilts of Valor to veterans during the annual Veteran’s Day Assembly at Freeman Public Schools on November 10th. This is a wonderful venue in which to spread the message of the Quilt of Valor mission and give recognition to deserving veterans.
The Freeman High School Band provided music as students and community members took their seats in the gym. The assembly began with a greeting from Superintendent of Schools, Randy Page, and the presentation of colors by the Adams American Legion and the Burrows-De Boer VFW Post #10042. The band led the audience in singing the National Anthem and the kindergarten class led the Pledge of Allegiance. Three high school students, Lindsey Ehmen, Felicia Moore, and Jacob Gramann, were recognized as winners of the VFW’s Voice of Democracy contest. The audience was then treated to Grace VanEngen’s speech which addressed the positive impact that her generation can have on continuing the work that previous generations have begun in maintaining the freedoms that we enjoy. Grace was the winner of the 8th Grade Patriot’s Pen contest, also sponsored by the VFW. The Freeman High School Choir then performed “Song for the Unsung Hero”.
At this point in the program, the Forest Acres Quilting Club awarded their Quilts of Valor to two Korean War vets, Walter Buss and George “Bill” Burrows, and two Vietnam vets, Vernon Davison and Jim Hestermann. Club member, Lorna McMurray, began by explaining that the Quilt of Valor Foundation was started by Catherine Roberts who had the idea of awarding quilts to veterans touched by War when her son was deployed in Iraq. To date over 171,000 quilts have been awarded.
Lorna then told the audience the history of the Forest Acres Quilting Club. I organized this group in July of 2016. I had known about the Quilt of Valor Foundation for several years, but did not have time to devote to this cause while teaching full-time and raising three daughters. After retiring from a 33-year career in teaching, I knew the time had come to get involved. And I thought it would be much more fun to get others involved as well. As a result, Rita Fix, Janie Oltman, Lorna McMurray and I began sewing for two hours once a week in my sewing studio. At the present time members of the group include Lorna, Janie, Velma Lassen, Meredith Smidt, and me. Others have joined us for a session or two including three Freeman Elementary students, Addison and McKenna Thiemann and Rilyn Otto, who assisted us in our presentation. Also helping were grandchildren of the veterans present at the assembly.
Janie Oltman introduced the Korean War veterans. Walter Buss served in the United States Navy from 1952-1954 in the Mobile Construction Battalion. He then served two additional years in the Naval Reserve. He received the National Defense Award and s Sharp Shooting Award among others.
George “Bill” Burrows began his military career at the University of Nebraska in the ROTC program where he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He entered the Army in 1953 and served until 1955 reaching the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
Lorna then introduced the Vietnam Veterans. Vernon Davidson enlisted in the Marines in 1968 and was discharged in 1970. While serving in Vietnam in the 3rd Marine Division, Vern was involved in heavy combat and was wounded. As a result, he was awarded a Purple Heart. He also received the Combat Action Award, the Campaign Award, the National Defense Award, and the Rifle and Pistol Sharp Shooter Badge.
Jim Hestermann served in the Army from 1966-1968 in the 34th Engineering Battalion. He received the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. He was discharged as a Specialist 5.
Each time the Quilting Club begins work on a new quilt, we look forward to the time when we can honor a deserving veteran and award a quilt to them. The Freeman Assembly is very special as it includes people from the Adams and Filley communities ranging in age from five to 96. It is a unique opportunity for those who have not yet had the opportunity to serve our country thank those who have.