Monday, November 17, 2008

Strong statements depict patriotic nostalgia

I know you're looking at your calendar and saying, "Veteran's Day was LAST week." Well, I'm late, but we know it is never too late for nostalgia and any time is the right time for patriotism. So I'm not really late at all!

If you check out my Observations blog you'll see that I have been looking at sites that deal with World War II, war, sending Christmas cards to the troops. But most of all I have been reading the stories being told by some of the soldiers. A friend, Linda Swink, is close to publishing her book that compiles information about the people behind the names on military installations such as Fort Hood or Ramstein Air Force Base or Camp Lejuene, etc. I did some editing and proof reading for her and found myself captivated and devastated at the same time by the hardships and decisions these men and some women had to face. Throwing themselves in harms way, saving their friends, making the difference between winning or losing. Giving their lives without hesitation. I felt so humbled and yet proud to share the name American with such people. And so thankful that there are people who still step forward and fight to preserve our freedom and protect all of us.

Then I started looking for quilt stories and found the PBS site where Bobbie Sullivan told about a wall hanging based upon a fistful of letters found in her neighbor's house. (See top photo.) Bobbie described the inspiration for the quilt as:
"37 letters found in a 19th century Scituate home, were written between 1917 and 1918. The author was a young soldier from Braintree, Massachusetts named Joe. The recipient was his fiancée, Kitty, who lived in the adjacent town of Quincy, in a section called Atlantic. Joe was killed in the summer of 1918 six months before the end of World War I. Kitty never married and died in Scituate in 1979."

I tracked down Bobbie's website and found the quilt she had written about. A strong statement, I think. After seeing Bobbie's quilt, those little stars and stripes fabrics and red white and blue hearts and stars that seem to pass for a patriotic statement seem silly.

Faith Ringgold's site is an inspiration in itself. And if you want patriotism, it abounds here. Again, strong statements of not just words but deeds and images and history that speaks so loudly of those heroes who fought for freedom. (See her Flag Story Quilt to the right.)

I'm still fond of Eileen Doughty's patriotic activist quilts. One she made may be the only quilt I have ever seen that is embellished with barbed wire. Never let your voice die, Eileen, tell us the way it is, not that politically correct rhetoric. Sorry I don't have a link to her activist quilts, but visit Eileen's website, here.

And if you have a patriotic quilt to share -- check out this patriotic quilt contest titled "God Bless America Quilt Contest. Time is running out for entries. They should be 22 inches and will tour for three years to benefit wounded soldiers. Entries are open through Dec. 31, 2008. Click on the quilt contest link for more info.

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