Today is Veteran’s Day, and I wanted to share with you the story of a quilt I made a couple of years ago. This quilt is not perfect, and it showing signs of “love”, but it is one that means a lot to me.
In 2011, I received the news that I was going to be sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea for 12 months. Because of the location, this included the painful realization that I couldn’t take my family with me. I had been separated from them before, but never for such a long time. Leaving them for any amount of time is always difficult, but a year seemed like an eternity. It makes me want to cry just thinking about how it felt to know I would have to leave my then 1, 5, and 11 year old. I love being in the Air Force and I knew that extended absences from the family are part of the job, but I think every service member experiences the fear that their family will forget about them, or the bond will not be as strong once they return. I knew that I needed to remain level-headed for my children, and find a way to adjust to life temporarily without them.
Before I left, my husband bought me a sewing machine for Mother’s Day. I decided that I was going to spend my year doing something I’d always wanted—learning how to quilt. In Korea, quilting helped me in so many ways. More specifically, it kept my mind busy and focused on something other than my heartache. When I wasn’t working, I was sitting at my sewing machine, reading quilting blogs, or watching video tutorials to learn everything I could. That year I made 11 quilts, and today I wanted to share with you the one I made for the oldest of my three children, Trevor.
The quilt was made with uniforms that belong to my husband and me, and they have been worn in locations all over the world—from Iraq to Europe to North Dakota. Two of the camouflage patterns on the uniforms have been retired, so I like to think of it as a piece of Air Force history. I wanted the style of the quilt to be simple and modern and chose to make a chevron pattern that resembles the rank we wear on our sleeves. And now that I have a little more experience (and my eye is a little more critical) I see that the chevrons aren’t exactly symmetrical, the binding is imperfect, and if I had to do it again I would’ve probably chosen to quilt it differently; but it still one of the most meaningful quilts I have created.
Trevor was born into a military life, and has sacrificed just as much for his country as his father and I have. He has had to constantly change schools, leave old friends, make new friends, and say goodbye to his parents over-and-over again. He is a trooper. To show my appreciation for him and everything he has done, I made him the quilt to say “thank you”. Because when one member of the family enlists in the military, the entire family joins with them. They too have to make sacrifices, and experience their own hardships, and uncertainties. They impatiently wait for you, just as much as you look forward to seeing them again.
Once “our” year was over, and I returned home again, I was overwhelmed by all the hugs, kisses, and tears. My fears that our bond wouldn’t be a strong dissolved. Within a few days life fell back into its normal crazy routine, and I was amazed at how quickly my children adapted to life with “mom” again. For Veteran’s Day we honor those who have served to protect our nation; however, as a member of the armed forces myself, I think this day should also honor those loved ones that provide us with unconditional love and support, give us the strength we need go on, and are waiting for us to come home again.