Stitches for soldiers

School joins quilting effort to warm wounded soldiers

Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2005

 

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  Kenai Alternative High School student Amanda Hemingway, top, gets help Tuesday selecting fabric squares from instructor Sandy McIntyre during a class project to make quilts for veterans injured in the Iraq war. Photos by M. Scott Moon

Hemingway uses an iron to prepare the squares for stitching.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

As the U.S. administration continues to lead its preemptive strike in the name of democracy and war on terrorism throughout Iraq, Americans will continue to be divided on its purpose, philosophy, mechanics, methodology and questions of humanity. But these questions don't matter to people who want to support the troops who carry out the orders of war.

Last month, a story by CBS news correspondent Mark Strassmann, "Quilts of Valor," inspired quilters throughout this country to support some of those soldiers.

The story detailed how quilters in America volunteer to put together quilts for soldiers maimed in Iraq. Rhonda Palmer, a quilter volunteering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, had the idea, and enlisted the help of hundreds of quilters. This week, teachers at Kenai Alternative High School desired to become part of the effort.

Teache, Vickie Roney, said she and another teacher, Sandy McIntyre, agreed the project would be a positive experience for students.

"It's important for students to understand world issues, and we thought this would be a nice way to be in touch with world affairs. We talk about people we know in the community involved in Iraq," Roney said.

McIntyre shows the kids how to piece together fabric strips that will eventually end up as full-sized quilts donning stars and stripes and red, white, and blue. She said every student at the school is involved in the project.

Phyllis Halstead, secretary, said the school will contribute at least two quilts during this rotation term. She said the students talk about the war and why they're helping make quilts for injured soldiers.

"They're not really sure why our troops are there, but they do certainly wish it would end soon."

 

Kenai Alternative High School student Amanda Hemingway, top, gets help Tuesday selecting fabric squares from instructor Sandy McIntyre during a class project to make quilts for veterans injured in the Iraq war.

Photos by M. Scott Moon

Still, the idea of Americans being part wars so geographically distanced from the U.S. is commonplace to some, and in the fore front of other's minds. One view is that of senior, Aaron Byrd who has already gone through basic training and has volunteered to serve in Iraq. Byrd said being at war is nothing new for the country, and he's signed up to fulfill his obligation to the country.

"America has always been at war, it's America. I'm going so I can say I've done my part. I am going to do my share," he said.

Byrd said people are wasting energy arguing over the whether the war in Iraq is right when they could be helping out.

"I think a lot of people are just pointing fingers and not supporting troops. People can help on multiple levels," he said. "You do what you can, when you can."

Robert Sterling, senior has enlisted and has gone through basic training.

"It goes to show that people may not like the war, but that's not what it's about. It's about the guys coming home," he said.

When asked what sort of impression the quilts would make on returning troops, Sterling said, "I can guarantee it hits home. It's comforting because many don't support the war. But people can support the troops. They've earned it."

Charlene Sandifer, junior, said quilting is important work to do during war time because of all the local people serving in Iraq.

"It's important to know what's going on over there, because a lot of people don't know or don't talk about it," she said.

Junior Daniel Rust said it's not right for Americans to condemn the war without considering the troops who make it happen.

"This is a necessary war. It's what the government wants," he said.

"We're sending quilts to show them we care," Rust said.

Sandifer said the message students at the high school are trying to send to troops is a simple one, "Thank you. And thank you for your sacrifice."

The quilts will be sent to wounded soldiers recouperating at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.



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