Huddled beneath a quilt

Published 9:37 am Thursday, July 2, 2009

There are still bombs bursting in air and rockets’ red glare.

The skies over Iraq and Afghanistan are full of them.

Soldiers and civilians cower on the ground below.

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These bombs and rockets are not special effects for a hometown Fourth of July celebration when the sun goes down, and the band stops playing.

They are real.

American soldiers, men and women will not be celebrating Independence Day the way their families do in backyards and public parks Saturday.

There are no parades, no barbecues, when you’re hunkering down dodging bullets.

The war(s) go on.

The fighting continues. American troops are pulling out of Iraqi cities, but not the war.

This means, First Congregational Church (UCC) women are still fighting the war one stitch at a time.

As long as their fingers, hands, and eyesight hold out, the Dorcas Circle will wrap American heroes in Quilts of Valor.

For the last four years Dorcas Circle members have made 130 quilts for a very special program of patriotism.

The mission of the QOV Foundation is to cover ALL war wounded and injured service members and veterans from the War on Terror whether physical and/or psychological wounds with Wartime Quilts called Quilts of Valor (QOVS).

The closest a quilt made in Austin by the Dorcas Circle members has come to wrapping itself around a soldier close to home occurred this May.

“The irony of how many of these quilts they have made going to a soldier with an Austin connection is amazing,” said Eldean Peters, during a recent visit to First Congregation Church (UCC) and the weekly quilt-making session. “Just think how many thousands of the quilts have been made by church organizations all over the United States.

“They go to soldiers everywhere. To hospitals, troop departures and retirement ceremonies,” Peters said. “So many Quilts of Valor made by women for soldiers to let them know they are not forgotten.”

Jim Ceurvels got one of the Dorcas Circle quilts at the U.S. Army National Guard retirement ceremonies held in May at Nashua, N.H.  The first 12 of his 21-year career were spent with the Minnesota National Guard at Albert Lea.

He married Jackie, Mrs. Peters’ daughter and an Austin High School graduate and worked as a plumber. The couple have three children.

“After wrapping up in my quilt, it feels like the biggest hug ever,”  Ceurvels said in an e-mailed thank you to Dorcas Circle.  The quilt, made in Austin, somehow made its way to New Hampshire and into the hands of the soldier.

Each quilt, made by Dorcas Circle, contains a signature tag to identify where the quilt originated. The quilts are 50 by 60 inches or standard bed size.  Dorcas Circle relies on donations to undertake the project and First Congregational Church (UCC) is the only church in Austin to participate in this project.

The members’ sincerity of purpose is evident. “I like what we do.

But I’m not particularly in favor of the war.  I am 100 percent in favor of supporting our troops, said Donna Meyer, who suggested Dorcas Circle take on the Quilts of Valor project.

When Saturday night comes and Americans everywhere recline on blankets to gaze at fireworks’ bombs bursting in air and rockets’ red glare, they should not forget any veteran huddled beneath a quilt of any kind.