Our Small Part.
About 6:15 Wednesday morning Dick & I pulled out of our driveway in a northern suburb of Milwaukee and lead-footed it to St. Louis to hand over 17 Quilts of Valor.  Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do mornings – at least not that early, nor do I usually drive for 6+ straight hours.  Obviously the excitement of participating in the Quilts of Valor Across America trip had me psyched!
We arrived in Collinsville, IL two hours before check in, so we lunched at Waffle House (Dick,s on-the-road favorite) and then headed for Sweet Annie’s Quilt Shop in Troy, IL.  The ladies at SweetAnnie’s were very welcoming.  The husband of one of the staff members is a former Marine.  They didn’t know about Quilts of Valor but they do now and have the postcards at the front desk!  Dick immediately headed for the red, white, and blue fabrics, he’s got a great eye for color and layout – he does all the layouts and suggests patterns; (he’s three or four quilts ahead of me – I can’t sew as fast as he designs).  After doing his part for the local economy, we headed to The Quilted Garden in Edwardsville, IL.  Delightful & welcoming owner (husband is former Navy), interested customers, and another round of Dick’s economic stimulus package.  None of them knew about Quilts of Valor, but they do now and we left information and postcards to help spread the word.

Tink and Dick - Caseyville, IL

Tink and Dick - Caseyville, IL

We returned to our motel, rested, and turned on the local news.  We found the local NBC affiliate coverage of the quilt group in Warrenton and their support of Quilts of Valor.  We kept in contact with Gail as they headed to St. Louis and into Illinois.  They arrived at their motel in Caseyville just moments after we did.  It was WONDERFUL to watch the van pull up – it just emanates excitement and joy!  Catherine was the first to tumble out, quickly followed by Gail, Virginia, and Bob.  Hugs and introductions and more hugs.  I had met Catherine and Gail in Houston in 2007 and it was sew good to see them again!  Their energy is contagious!  We were delighted add to 17 QOVs to the van.  One quilt was from a guild in western Iowa; nine from the members of the Scrappy Quilters Guild in Williams Bay, WI; and seven that Dick and I had created.  We had the four of them sign quilt blocks that we will incorporate into future quilts.
Thursday morning we enjoyed breakfast with Tamara Boots, the regional Gammill representative.  She has been involved in QOV (her husband is Air Force) and was happy to share ideas for getting others involved in this wonderful project.  We look forward to keeping in touch and seeing her again at the large shows in the Chicago – Madison, WI area.
After breakfast we stopped at a nearby Starbucks (my on-the-road favorite).  I was wearing a new QOV tee shirt, which led to a conversation with one of the baristas.  I told her all about QOV, and left her with postcards and summary sheets.  She was going to dust off her sewing machine after a visit to Sweet Annie’s!  She is our latest recruit to the QOV cause!
It is such an honor to be part of Quilts of Valor.  Our son, Jon, served with the Marines in Operation Phantom Fury (Fallujah – 2004-2005).  We create these quilts to honor all those who serve, and in memory of the 48 Marines we lost during that deployment.  We wish we could have traveled East with Catherine, Gail, Virginia, and Bob and been part of the preparations this weekend and the presentation on Monday.  We will be following on the blog, checking the internet for media coverage, and be with them in spirit.  Their dedication and enthusiasm are an inspiration to all of us.

Thanks for the opportunity and the memories.

Tink Linhart