While the nation traded barbs over America’s initial flag on the back of a sneaker last week, the current flag was revered at the Booneville Senior Center.

With flags prominently featured in the decor, Leon Boersma was presented with a “Quilt of Valor” from the River Valley Stars at the Booneville Senior Center Wednesday. The flag was also a key portion of the quilt itself.

“Mr. Boersma, this quilt brings you a three part message from our heart,” Sue Anderson said after the quilt was presented to the 94-year old World War II veteran from Booneville. “First we honor for your service. Next our quilt notes that freedom is not free — the cost of our freedom is the dedication of lives of men and women like you and this quilt is meant to say thank you for your sacrifice.

“Finally this quilt is to offer comfort and remind you that although family and friends cannot always be there you’re forever in all out thoughts and hearts.”

Anderson said it is the belief the quilt can offer both comfort and warmth.

“We hope when you experience dark times or need the warmth of a grateful hug you will wrap your quilt around you so it can provide the comfort we have sewn into every seam,” said Anderson.

“I don’t know what to say,” said Boersman, who was joined at the presentation by friends and family members including great-grandchildren. “There’s not anything to say but thank you.”

Quilts of Valor is a national foundation launched in 2003 by the mother of a soldier who served in Iraq.

“Her concern was for his recovery after he returned home,” Anderson said in making the presentation to Boersma. “She decided he needed a comforting and healing quilt and from that movement she decided every soldier needed a comforting and healing quilt of valor.”

Quilts of Valor organizations like the River Valley Stars based in Greenwood, are made up entirely of volunteers who acquire the materials needed for the quilts on their own, Anderson said.

Quilts are fastened by one or two members or can be created by multiple sewers of differing skill levels. Members who do not sew often help with supplies, fundraising.

Boersma was a crew member aboard the US’s B24J Liberator bomber which crash landed near Greatstone, England, on the Kent Coast, on June 20, 1944.

According to a www.theromneymarsh.net webpage there was a memorial in Greatstone until 2010.

The webpage account of the incident indicates two of the 11 men died when the bomber was struck by an 88 millimeter shell and two others died after ejecting from the plane.

The initial strike took out two of the plane’s engines, a third went out over the Channel and the final one was losing power resulting in the crash landing into the water executed by the pilot.

“The aircraft could be seen on the sand at very low tides for a number of years, but has now disappeared buried under the sand,” the webpage states.

The entire account of the incident can be found at https://theromneymarsh.net/bombercrash?sfns=mo

In June of 2019 there were 2,330 quilts awarded, and to date in 2019 there have been 13,311, Anderson said. Since the organization’s inception there have been 222, 421 awarded.