This small community ceases to amaze me since we came home to the Blooming Prairie area in 2014.
I will never forget a statement local businessman Craig Kruckeberg said to me upon our arrival in BP. "There's nothing like a small town," he said. He is so RIGHT.
This small community is comprised of so many passionate, loving and caring people. If there is a cause to be had, Blooming Prairie area citizens take up the challenge.
Two of the first challenges we met included the awarding of 14 Quilts of Valor on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2014. That same evening, Tom Peterson revealed a fund drive that was to signal the beginning of a drive to create a veterans memorial in Blooming Prairie. That fund drive was seeking $250,000 to build the memorial. Read on and you will find out how much was raised and you will follow the construction process.
The year 2014 proved to be magic. It was the start of a project to remember our veterans by giving them a special Quilt of Valor that was pieced and quilted by local women who support our veterans.
A Quilt of Valor (QOV) is a quality, handmade quilt that is machine or hand quilted. It is awarded to a service member or veteran who has been touched by war. The Quilt says unequivocally, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice in serving our nation.”
Since those first Quilts of Valor were presented, a total of 207 have been given to veterans, says VFW Auxiliary Post 878 president Joyce Johns, one of the organizers of the Veterans Day ad Memorial Day programs that feature the presentations of Quilts of Valor to veterans.
Twelve more Quilts of Valor were presented on Veterans Day last week to 10 male veterans and two female veterans.
The presentation event is always an emotional time for the veterans and for their families. Joyce is responsible for introducing the recipients at the BP Servicemen's Club.
Chris Butler, a quilter, was actually the individual who read in a quilting magazine about the National Quits of Valor Foundation and thought this was something she wanted to do.
The first quilt in the Blooming Prairie Quilts of Valor program was made by Butler and given to her stepfather, John Whiting.
Many area quilters are responsible for creating the handmade quilts for our veterans. Many hours of intense work are invested in each quilt.
It is not possible to list all those women who are responsible for making the Blooming Prairie Quilts of Valor.
Don Loken of Owatonna received a Quilt of Valor last week. "This is a day to remember," he remarked.
There are tears of joy shed by the quilt recipients. My father-in-law Dale Mowers and I received our quilts on Memorial Day a few years ago. I remember putting my pen down in awe when my name was mentioned. I was taking notes for a story on the Quilts of Valor at the time.
From the Quilts of Valor website, we read:
Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003 with a dream, literally a dream. Founder Catherine Roberts’ son Nat was deployed in Iraq. According to Catherine:
"The dream was as vivid as real life. I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair.
"I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter. Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt.
"His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and well-being. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was: Quilts = Healing."
The first Quilt of Valor was awarded in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost a leg in Iraq.
Thank you quilters for your kind, thoughtful and creative work in producing these quilts which honor our veterans for their service.
We have many "movers and shakers" in Blooming Prairie and our quilters are part of that group. Joyce Johns and Chris Butler are two of those local leaders.
More than 250,000 Quilts of Valor have been created and given to veterans since 2003.
Now, about the second challenge of creating a veterans memorial. Through the efforts of Tom Peterson and many others, more than $330,000 has been raised for the memorial and it is being enjoyed daily by many.
As our newest Quilts of Valor recipients were leaving the BP Servicemen's Club last Thursday, red, white and blue lights were bouncing over the memorial in an impressive light show.
Small towns are special and that is attested to by the Quilts of Valor, the work of VFW and American Legion Auxiliary members.
Passionate support in this small town is also given to the BP Cancer Group, the BP Education Foundation, the BP Youth Club, our area churches and to many more groups and organizations.