We started out the morning going to the USS Midway – now that is one big ship. There were tons of stairs and many tiny spaces but so many things to see. It makes you realize what all those Navy guys go through. We met some great docents who were veterans volunteering on the ship. I was wishing we had quilts for them. When we drove into the parking lot, the parking attendant looked at our signs on the car and said, “I saw you on the news this morning. You give quilts to combat vets. That is really awesome.” We all looked at each other and realized we were on the news all over San Diego – so much for a surprise.
After our tour of the ship, we went to the famous Cheesecake Factory for our lunch/dinner. Check out my Chinese chicken salad – I chased it all over the plate. We all got a different cheesecake to eat after the evening ceremony.
We arrived at the Embassy Suites at 5:30 pm so we could prep the quilts. Becky, Louie and Auntie Rosemary met us to help. It was their first big time to see us in action. They all jumped in and Louie was taking photos. Barb’s sister, Sharon, also helped and got to see what we really do. I often think no one realizes all the work it takes but when you see it firsthand, it often changes your respect for all the time spent. Thank you to the Bartole family of San Diego for arranging the room for the event and to Suzanne for the pictures and press connections – you would fit right in with our gang.
We started our ceremony at 7:00 pm. The Marines all thought it was a meeting they needed to attend not knowing they were to receive quilts. It began like a regular business meeting then they said we have special guests – Quilts of Honor – and showed our Video from our website and Facebook. I watched the room as they watched the video. There were tears flowing as I walked to the front of the room. When the video finished, the whole room stood up and started clapping. I was so embarrassed as it takes all of us to do this and my crew always has my back and works hard. I told them I was honored to meet them again. We had met in Mt. Vernon but we didn’t have enough quilts. I didn’t forget so tonight they would each receive a quilt.
The quilts had been hidden in the back of the room and covered with sheets so they didn’t have any idea what was about to happen. Quite a few Marines had their wives with them so there were about 150 people in the room. Right before we started, Fox News came in for an interview so it got pretty nervous in that room.
We called 5 veterans up at a time, shaking each one’s hand, and then had them unfold their quilts. I got enough kisses to last for a lifetime. When we finished, all the crew came up front and they presented us with a check for $1,000. Then some of the guys kissed the crew so they weren’t left out – that was pretty cute. When we walked back through the room, they were shaking our hands and hugging us. Many still had tears. This group all saw combat in Vietnam so they understood what we were doing. One said, “I accept this quilt for the one corpsman and 5 Marines who didn’t make it home.” You could have heard a pin drop after he spoke.
I know we all worked hard to finish these 75 quilts, but you honored these Vietnam veterans who had never been thanked. Many in this unit had Purple Hearts and many had gotten cancer from Agent Orange. They were from all over the United States so I would say we completed our mission in a style that won’t be forgotten by these quilt recipients or us – each one tears at your heart.
We had a few days off which was great, but by ending the night giving quilts made it all worth it. Thank you to my crew here and at home who kept us going. God bless you.
Stay tuned as the next few days we have events in Livermore, Oakdale, and Concord and also in Wisconsin.