Terrorist Attack 'Comfort' Quilts on Display in D.C.
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 15, 2002 Almost immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, citizens across the nation and overseas consoled survivors and pledged their support for the war against terrorism through colorful artwork: quilting.
Some 60 handmade quilts from military family members, elementary school students and others were sent to the Pentagon in the aftermath of the attacks, said June Forte, DoD curator of the quilts. A dozen of those quilts, she noted, are now on public display here for several weeks at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave.
"The quilts are overwhelmingly colorful and beautiful," remarked Forte, who has visited the downtown display. Each quilt, she said, has a narrative from the creators describing how and why the quilts were made.
The quilts were sent from locations across the United States and around the world, she said. For example, one came from the American military community in Sembawang, Singapore, she noted. The narrative accompanying that quilt says the artwork conveys the community's "sorrow and support in a direct way."
Each quilt is wall-mounted inside a glass showcase. Forte said the display has been well received by the public.
The quilts, bearing messages such as "God Bless America" and thanks to the U.S. military, can be seen along corridor walls running from the food court on the Reagan Building's concourse level.
The World Trade Center/Pentagon/Pennsylvania Memorial Project provided an "honor quilt" that features panels donated by volunteers across America.
The "United We Stand" quilt integrates panels from artwork submitted by 60 students at Cardinal Forest Elementary School in Springfield, Va., home of many Pentagon employees. School counselor Barbara Grimes, who assembled the quilt, noted in the narrative that the attacks provoked "overwhelming" emotions among the students.
"The message portrayed in these quilts regarding the Sept. 11 tragedy was captured so beautifully," said Environmental Protection Agency employee Naomi Jones, who visited the exhibit during a morning work break July 12. "I'm proud of the patriotism that has been exemplified."
She said the surprise terrorist attacks against America on Sept. 11 reminded her of Pearl Harbor. She expressed hope that "such atrocities" wouldn't occur again.
Regarding the U.S. military's role in fighting terrorism at home and overseas, Jones noted, "We're looking to those who have the wherewithal to keep America safe."