Quilts of Valor Foundation honors local veterans

Glenn Parrish
Special to the Booneville Democrat
U.S. Army veteran David Beeler is seen being wrapped in his Quilt of Valor by members of the River Valley Stars.
U.S. Navy veteran Bobby Hester stands beside his Quilt of Valor during the quilt presentation ceremony.

In a ceremony organized by Logan County Veterans Service Officer Mary Garman, seven Logan County veterans were presented Quilts of Valor at the Jeral Hampton Meeting Place in Booneville on June 25. The quilts were crafted by the River Valley Stars of the Quilts of Valor Foundation.

Garman nominated the veterans for the quilts, whose services spanned from the Korean to Iraq wars. The group of men represented four branches of the U.S. military: Army veterans Garland Stafford, David Beeler and Norris Westmoreland; Navy veterans Bobby Hester and Charlie Nelson; Marine Corps veteran Kristian Bearden; and Air Force veteran Scott Tober. The quilts were uniquely tailored for each veteran, highlighting the veterans' branch of service.

“These quilts bring to you a three-part message from our heart. First we honor you for your service, we honor you for leaving all that you held dear to stand in harm’s way in a time of crisis, protecting us from a time of war," said Sue Anderson, speaking on behalf of the River Valley Stars. “Our quilters know 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.” Anderson stated that the quilts are a reminder that there are tens of thousands of men and women across the nation who are forever indebted to our veterans.

Anderson detailed the origination of the Quilts of Valor Foundation in 2003 – the vision of Kathrine Roberts, a mother who's son was cloaked in a quilt to provide comfort and healing. She then set out to create the quilts for all veterans affected by war. A portion of the ceremony had each of the veterans wrapped in their quilts.

Since its inception and through the ceremony in Booneville, the organization has made 273,356 quilts, including 8,093 already made in 2021. “And we still have so many to do,” said Johnson. The quilts are assembled by one or two individuals, but it is a combined effort of the entire group that includes fundraising and supplies acquisition, even if they do not sew, Johnson added.

Garman said she expects the group to have another mass award ceremony in July.

The River Valley Stars serves five western Arkansas counties and has stretched into Oklahoma.