Hundreds of people gathered in the parking lot outside the entrance of Summerfield Estates on Flag Day for a patriotic event that included a Marine honor guard posting the colors, an appearance by the West American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard Riders and Sunset Hog Riders, live music, speeches and most importantly, accolades heaped on many Estates resident veterans for their service.
But it was the veterans at the event who received “quilt hugs” who were the most touched when they received Quilts of Valor in a heartfelt ceremony.
Navy veteran Don Weller said this was the first time in 32 years that his service had been recognized.
Other veterans were equally affected, including Richard English, who said the day after the event, “I was very pleased to get one of these beautiful quilts. I am amazed at how much work they put into them. I was told I was going to get one two years ago, but then Covid hit.”
As to where the quilt will go, his wife Donna said, “Maybe on a wall.”
Ron Farley said, “I thought it was very nice, very nice. I’ve got it on my bed. I appreciate it,” and James Remington added, “It was a tear-inducing event. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, but it was emotional.”
The nationwide Quilts of Valor was started in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, who son Nat was deployed in Iraq, according to Chris Dunn, who represented the local organization at the event and introduced each veteran who received a quilt.
“Catherine had a dream of a forlorn soldier on a bench and came up with the idea of wrapping a quilt around his shoulders,” Dunn said. “We have awarded 313,000 quilts since.”
She noted that with volunteers in their organization stuck at home during the Covid pandemic, “we were bored, so we made a lot of quilts. We just had our first meeting this morning in 2 ½ years. No two quilts are alike, and they are to be used and wrapped around you.”
During the ceremony, quilts were wrapped around the shoulders of 16 veterans as Dunn called out their names, military branch and years of service.
Estates resident Cara Johnson, who was pinch-hitting as MC, also named Estate veterans who recently passed away plus those who previously had received Quilts of Valor starting in June 2017.
She introduced Mayor Jason Snider, who presented award certificates to nine veterans who had already received Quilts of Valor. “It is an honor to be here,” Snider said. “I want to recognize the courage and sacrifice made by you so our government and community can continue to function today. On behalf of the City of Tigard, I thank you.”
Snider said he brought several dozen City of Tigard pins to hand out to the veterans as well as anyone else who wanted one.
The event concluded as a band led by U.S. Army veteran Craig Kellogg, who served in the Vietnam War, played several songs while guests lined up to help themselves to a delicious barbecue. And there were a number of items being raffled off, including a weekend get-away and four rounds of golf, with all the proceeds going to the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
And the weather cooperated for the event, which was held outside due to the size of the expected crowd and all the participants. Despite nearly continuous weeks and months of rain, there was no rain during the ceremony, ensuring a beautiful afternoon enjoyed by all.