Piece and comfort for the eyes, heart, and soul.

My Memorial Day Challenge

Five separate 24″ square quilts make up this Memorial Day Challenge.

In July 2018, I was honored to have been invited to participate in this Memorial Day Quilt Challenge. Thank you Dorry Emmer for your vision of a quilt exhibit in honor of Memorial Day and the fallen service men and women it commemorates!
Why did I agree to participate in this challenge? In part because, as a new “Mimi” (grandmother) I am passionate that my grandchildren learn the truth of American history. (Too much of American history is being rewritten these days.) Also, I believe it is the responsibility of each American to learn the truth of our nation’s history to better understand the cost of the freedom we, as a nation, enjoy so each might fully embrace a heart of gratitude for those who came before preserving this freedom, never forgetting their sacrifice. I hope wherever this exhibit and my quilts are displayed they will prompt viewers to learn more and inspire a better understanding of the need for and heart of those who serve. And because I, having been an Army wife for 18 years, have a deep heartfelt appreciation for personnel of all our nation’s branches of service.
Why is Memorial Day recognized each year on the last Monday of May? It is not to glorify war! Rather, it is to remember the great and ultimate sacrifices made in every war our service men and women have fought ensuring the preservation of liberty and freedoms for all Americans. May we never forget!
That is, in part, also the mission of the American Legion that gives away red poppies each Memorial Day as the official symbol of remembrance of the fallen. This quilt challenge required the use of poppy red in each of these quilts. I inserted a full bloom red poppy in my WWI quilt because the remembrance poppy was inspired by the WWI poem, “In Flanders Fields”. In its opening lines, author John McCrae refers to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers’ graves in Flanders, a region of Belgium.  I used poppy red in the American flag portion of the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam quilts to carry the remembrance theme throughout. And finally, in my War on Terror quilt I included a poppy in partial bloom because this war continues still.

In memory of my Army soldier, Maj. Kenneth L. Gauldin, Jr., whose infectious love of history inspired my series of Historical Reflection quilts, I utilized pieces of used, but thoroughly washed, Army dark olive drab green wool blankets as batting between the top and backings of these Memorial Day Challenge quilts.

Before starting any work on these 24” square quilts, I first decided on an overall design. It was my goal that they would highlight the service of both men and women and all five branches of military service (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard). While they can hang alone, I designed them to be hung together.
The yellow ribbon has long been a symbol of support for absent or missing loved ones. The yellow ribbons throughout my quilts show America’s support of our troops and also identifies the years America participated in each war and the human cost of each war to preserve America’s freedom. Freedom isn’t free!
My design also showcases our nation’s flag in which white represents purity and innocence, perhaps that of the young men that willingly take up arms to defend her, red signifies the hardiness and valor with which they fight, stars, painstakingly embroidered with military precision, represent our united states and float in a sea of blue that signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice of all who bravely gave the ultimate sacrifice. And perhaps because I was born on Flag Day, I am passionate about this symbol of America.
Having been the recipient of an American Flag folded 13 times into a triangle shape given in honor of my Army Veteran’s military service, I purposed that the combined design of these five quilts, when grouped as intended, feature the image of a triangular shaped Veterans Administration Burial Flag’s field of blue with white stars sitting prominently above the War on Terror quilt.
With the overall design in mind, I thoroughly researched each war before deciding what aspect of that war and which branch of service would be represented in each of the five quilts. Finally, having made those decisions, I began to figure out ‘how’ I would create that theme in and on fabric.

Your link to see these quilts in greater detail and read more about the history behind and my artist statement for each of these individual quilts follows.

World War I – Doughboys in the Trenches

World War II – The Survival War

The Korean War – A Frozen Conflict

The Vietnam War – The War Politicians Abandoned

The War on Terror – A Resilient Nation Comes Together

Memorial Day Memories Exhibit

Two years in the making, these Memorial Day quilts were completed in March of 2020, just as the Covid pandemic shut down life as we knew it. All quilt shows and most all venues closed down delaying the sharing of these quilts with the world.
In all, ten quilters took on this challenge, so the exhibit of them all included 50 quilts and they finally made their debut in time for Memorial Day 2022.

Click here to see snapshots of the Memorial Day Memories exhibit at the Barns of Rose Hill.

And also on exhibit at The McLean Textile Gallery September 13th through October 20th, 2022.
You can watch The McLean Textile Gallery’s promotional video of this exhibit here.

Click here to see snapshots of the Memorial Day Memories Exhibit at the McLean Textile Gallery.