A Quilt of Valor in Progress

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There is a mixture of pride and amazement watching my wife make a quilt. And, I am honored that she will ask me to lend my eye to the design and layout. Perhaps it is my photographic eye, or just that she enjoys having me participate.

I have asked her on several occasions if I could write a story of her making a quilt from start to finish, and she has agreed, but this one quilt, this Quilt of Valor, is not that one. This quilt was started a year ago before I asked.

Lin had attended a Quilt of Valor workshop to learn more about these special quilts. A Quilt of Valor is made for loved ones who are members of the military or veterans. At that workshop, she cut strips and sewed blocks. Later, at home, she put those pieces in a box to store the quilt pieces. After a while, it became a UFO, that’s Unfinished Object in sewing speak. Over the weekend, the pieces came out of the box, and were laid out on the floor to start the process of quilt making again. This is where the actual layout comes together and corrections are made. Ideas for borders are contemplated and different fabrics and designs tested.

The quilt pieces laid on the floor for a day or so before going back into the quilt box. How long will it be before this one is finished? Don’t know. But some veteran, somewhere, is going to enjoy the comfort of this quilt. Stay tuned.

You may be asking if this quilt is for me. No. I have seen Lin’s design idea for my Quilt of Valor. It’s going to be incredible because it will be made with a whole lot of love.

See you on the highway.

Brent

History Laying in the Ground

I have always been fascinated by history—a student of historical figures, places and highways—and it often gives me pause for thought. Some years ago, when I was working in rural economic development circles, there was a study published addressing why people travel. Setting aside the travels to visit family, the number one reason people travel is to see art, culture and history. I am one of those.

There is a small, and old cemetery not far from my home. I have passed it many times and barely notice it anymore, but recently, it caught my attention and I wondered where is the cemetery in Morrow, Ohio? If you have followed my travels, you know I have a tendency to photograph old country churches and cemeteries. I have passed through Morrow many times on nearly all quadrants of the village except for the southeastern corner. And so, my exploration took me in that direction. I found what I was looking for … and more to ponder at the Morrow Cemetery.

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The entrance to the cemetery is plain and somewhat deceiving. You find a cemetery on a hillside, but behind that hill is a very large plot of ground where hundreds have been laid to rest. And, like most other cemeteries, the graves of Veterans are marked with flags and plaques designating service.

Next to the entrance a gravesite stands alone, like a family plot, and quite set off from the others, the only gravesite on that side of the road. It’s what caught my eye.

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Morrow_Cemetery_Dec-2018-9David Ayers, Company F, 4th Ohio Cavalry, with a Veteran Plaque designating Civil War Veteran.

I wondered if there was some reason that this gravesite—one of a prominent place—was meaningful to Morrow’s history. I conducted some research, and although not exhaustive, I found a roster of Company F with Ayer’s name. He was mustered into the Army Jan. 5, 1864, at age 25, and mustered out July 15, 1865, when the entire unit was mustered out of service. The company participated in several skirmishes and battles in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

Morrow_Cemetery_Dec-2018-14Other than a more recent headstone, I could find little more about David B. Ayers, of Morrow, Ohio. He was a husband, brother, probably father, and most notably, a Civil War Veteran.

The Morrow Cemetery is the resting place of other Veterans with their graves marked with flags and plaques. Their service duly noted. All this history, this service to country, laying in the ground. Families and friends mourned their passing. Were their stories passed on?

Today, our living military and Veterans, who have served our country faithfully, await to tell their stories. Who will write their histories? 

See you on the highway.

Brent

Helping Veterans at the Wheelchair Games

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It is rare to be able to meet, greet, and rub elbows with hundreds of U.S. Veteran wheelchair athletes, but that’s what happened at the 37th Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games here in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 17-22. Six hundred athletes were expected to attend.

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For one day only, vendors and sponsors hosted information booths for veterans and their caregivers. As the program leader for the Cincinnati Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, I was honored to be one of those information providers, and grateful to VHA Director of Volunteer Services Sabrina Clark, for asking PHWFF to share a booth with Volunteer Services.

What attracted Veterans to our booth? Fly tying. I tied one quick fly pattern, a Tenkara Kebari that looks like a lot of other flies—just thread and feather on a #12 curved hook. It ties up fast. It catches trout, blue gills and an occasional bass. It’s effective using any fly rod—conventional or Tenkara. It may have seemed simple to me, but I noticed how individuals were in awe about how a fly is actually tied. Many asked questions and indicated interest in learning fly tying. All were surprised that I took the time to tie a fly just for them.

The result was a line of wheelchairs lining up for a “free fly.” They also received information about Project Healing Waters. Several dozen wheelchair veterans rolled away with a smile on their face and a fly in their pockets and backpacks … in a protective cup with lid. I couldn’t tie them fast enough. A few veterans knew about PHWFF, some had participated, but most wanted to know more about this fly fishing program for veterans and how they could participate. Contact information was provided for the nearest program to where they live.

A big thank you goes again to Sabrina Clark, and my booth partners, Traci Washington and Ryan Pleasants chiefs of Volunteer Services of Columbus and Dayton.

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The games are sponsored by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The 2018 games will be held in Houston. You can learn more about the games at www.WheelchairGames.org.

See you on the highway.

Brent

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

I have visited the memorial several times, and I was reminded of that by a piece on National Public Radio this morning. Today, April 30th, is the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of U.S. personnel and associates from Vietnam.

The last time I visited, I left my boots at The Wall.

Here is the NPR piece. Find a quiet spot, sit back and listen.

See you on the highway.

Brent