Honoring those who served - Area veterans awarded Quilts of Valor at Veterans Day programs in Waukon

A number of Veterans Day programs took place throughout Allamakee County Tuesday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day and in honor of those who served their country in the military. But several of those Veterans Day programs hosted on the local level in Waukon truly had their veteran honorings "wrapped up" and/or "covered," literally, with presentations of Quilts of Valor.

According to the Quilts of Valor website, www.qovf.org, the program's mission is "to cover all our warriors and combat veterans who have been touched by war or wounded with our healing and comforting Quilts of Valor." This non-profit foundation began in November 2003 with the idea to distribute quilts to help comfort and heal veterans who have been wounded by war, whether the damage be physical or psychological. The nationwide program most recently reported that more than 108,000 Quilts of Valor have been distributed since it began.



A pair of school programs in Waukon involved the distribution of Quilts of Valor from a group of quilting enthusiasts who meet at Queen Jean Quilting in Waukon to coordinate such efforts. The group currently focuses its Quilts of Valor honorings on veterans who served their country during World War II and the Korean War, and honored seven such veterans at programs held at Waukon High School and St. Patrick School, along with a more recent pair of veterans who each served a pair of tours in the Middle East.

Those honored veterans included Clete Althoff, Norbert Duffy, Keith Mason, Lynn Morrow and Calvin Snitker from World War II, Keith Fahey and Les Kerndt from the Korean War, Darryl Brink from Desert Storm/Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Joshua Brink from Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We wanted to start with WWII first, as those men are getting up there in years and we wanted to honor them first," stated quilting enthusiast Julie Rotach. "We have a list that we add new names to as we hear of them and would appreciate getting nominees from the community."



Likewise, a similar honoring not affiliated with any school program was held at the Vet's Club in Waukon Tuesday. Local quilting enthusiasts Linda Cook, Jane Meyer and Melissa Abler organized the program and honored six veterans of the Vietnam War from Allamakee County, including Ed Blake, Bill Campbell, Carl Christianson, John Curtin, Mike Looney and Dave Newton. Cook, Meyer and Abler were further assisted in their creation of the quilts by Shirley Harwood of Prairie du Chien, WI, who quilted each one.

"Guys who served in Vietnam never seemed to get a proper thank you when they returned," Cook said of the group's decision to focus on Vietnam War veterans. "It was an honor for us to be able to do this for them to let them know how grateful we are for what they did, and I think they were moved by it."

For more information on the Quilts of Valor program, visit www.qovf.org.