Woven in Time: Sept. 11 Memorial Quilts on Display at Arlington Women's Memorial
By Casie Vinall
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2003 Many Americans from around the country have responded to the events of Sept. 11 with support for those who lost loved ones in the attack. For some, this support has come in the form of needle and thread.
About one hundred quilts made in support of the victims now line the walls of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Northern Virginia. A sign at the entrance of the exhibit reads: "Inspired by the events of September 11, 2001, the Pentagon quilts came from freedom-loving people in small towns and big cities across the country and around the world. They are and will remain symbols of patriotism, comfort and encouragement to the Pentagon Community forevermore."
One quilt, entitled "Lest We Forget," at the start of the display has a label describing those who made it -- the Peace Makers Quilt Guild of Brandon, Fla. Guild members are wives of retired service members and Defense Department civilians out of Tampa, Fla.
Tarren Barnes, assistant supervisor to the Memorial director, said the display is a temporary exhibit donated by the Pentagon. The Defense Department originally received the quilts after the events of Sept. 11.
The quilts were donated from all around the country, from young and old alike. "The quilts just started filtering in," Barnes said. "Every quilt has a story as to why they came here."
Barnes said her favorite quilt is "The Candy Man Quilt," which was made in honor of Pentagon victim Jim Lynch. Lynch's sister, Maureen McDonald, made the quilt out of all 60 of his ties. The quilt pictures a man with a beard and a tie. McDonald sewed pieces of candy to the quilt because, she said in the attached note, he handed out "sweet pieces of joy" to all of his coworkers.
"The family actually came here about three weeks ago and wanted the whole display in commemoration of him," Barnes said. "It was just so sweet."
Another, entitled "The Story Quilt," is from Marshalltown, Iowa. Donated by engineer Patience Jackson, the quilt is a timeline of events. Making the quilt was therapeutic for Jackson, the attached note stated.
"Even though I live in Iowa, the tragedy felt like it hit close to home," Jackson wrote in the note.
The International Friendship Quilt, from Fort Leavenworth, Kan. was created primarily by "foreign officers' wives whose husbands were attending the Army Command and General Staff Officers' Course on September 11, 2001," the attached note read. The women also quilted squares for the bachelor officers attending the class.
"This hand-made quilt is our gift of love and is our attempt to strengthen the bond of love and humanity among all people," the group wrote.
Another quilt, the "JoAnna Connell Elementary School Quilt," from Erie, Pa., contains hundreds of squares displaying students' photos and drawings of the events.
Visitor Barbara Dean said she was impressed with the variety of quilts from all parts of the country. "I like quilts," she said "And to think that the kids have done this. That's nice."
First-time visitor Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Jodie Zollo of Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., was in town for a conference and wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. "It's unbelievable how much support the country has," she said of the quilt display. "Just to see all this is quite emotional."
Visitors Doug and Allyson German also spent time at the memorial, noting the differences in each quilt. "I think they're extremely interesting, each seems to have their own individual way of expression," Doug said.
"It's very nice that people have shown their appreciation to make their quilts in their own time," Allyson said.
Chris Carrigan of Utah and fellow schoolteachers visited the exhibit. "I find it very impressive and very humbling," she said. "I'm amazed at all the work and effort and time that people put into it, it's beautiful."
As a quilter herself, Carrigan said she knows "how much time it takes" to complete a quilt such as these.
She pointed to one particular flag she liked, stating her admiration that "so many people were so willing to express their thoughts in fabric."