In January the Nebraska Coordinator for the Quilts of Valor Foundation, Sara Kenny, asked group leaders about the possibility of awarding a quilt to each participant in the final Honor Flight to Washington D.C. One hundred thirty-five quilts would be needed to award to the women selected to participate. When I approached my quilting club about providing quilts for this event they immediately agreed to start stitching for this cause. Given the number of veterans in our area for whom we are working to award quilts as a group, I suggested that each member work on a quilt for the Honor Flight individually and I would do the quilting.
Shortly after our group committed to make four quilts for the Honor Flight, I was telling my mom about this awesome event and she commented that she could make one, too. My mother is an excellent seamstress. She taught me how to sew and made most of my clothes when I was in elementary school. She also likes to sew home decor - pillows, curtains, etc. And she has made some very nice quilts (see table runner below) although she doesn’t like that kind of sewing as much as I do. After several years of trying to get her involved in Quilts of Valor I had finally succeeded. And that would give our club five quilts to donate for the Honor Flight.
After choosing a pattern she set to work on a blue and white quilt entitled “From Sea to Shining Sea” from Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine. As she stitched she kept thinking about a friend from high school, Boyd Ferguson, who served in the Navy during the Korean War and with whom she had gotten reacquainted with since his move to Omaha a few years ago. He and his wife meet my mom and dad for lunch several times a month. She just knew that he should be awarded this quilt.
Mom first approached Boyd’s wife, Donna, to see if he would agree to this award. His initial reaction was “Wow!!” So Donna began to plan a reception and invited their immediate family to attend - about 50 people in all - from Omaha, North Platte, Raymond, Denver, and Anchorage. We gathered at Legends in the Aksarben Village in Omaha on July 1st for the award ceremony with plenty of Kleenex in hand!
Donna began by introducing my mother who explained her relationship with them and how this whole afternoon came to be. She then introduced me and I told about my involvement in Quilts of Valor and about the Quilts of Valor Foundation. I then told the group about Boyd’s service in the Navy: He is presently a member of VFW Post 6302 in Lexington, Nebraska. He enlisted in the US Navy on January 19, 1951 in Omaha, Nebraska and was discharged December 3, 1954 in San Francisco, California. He worked as an engineer and was stationed at the Naval Air Station at San Diego, California for about 18 months. The remainder of his enlistment was aboard the USS Thomas Jefferson, a troop carrier that made two one-month round trips to Yokohama, Japan, where the troops disembarked for transfer to Korea. Boyd says that it was the luck of the draw that kept him from being stationed in Korea. It was aboard ship that he learned by telegram of the birth of his first son, Mark. Another son, Lance, served in the National Guard and the Air Force from 1980 to 1990. His grandson, Jacob Derickson, is currently serving in the Air Force and is stationed at Anchorage, Alaska. Boyd received the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal, the National Defense Ribbon, the United Nations Service for Korea Ribbon, and the Korean Service Ribbon.
I generally avoid speaking at the awards ceremonies that my quilting club participates in and for good reason. I was fairly certain that I could not make it through without grabbing for a tissue and I was right. At least I was not alone as there were few dry eyes in the room. What an honor it was to award this quilt to another deserving veteran.
And my mom made another beautiful Quilt of Valor that will be donated for the Honor Flight!