The East St. Louis, Illinois roll call quilt
As Veteran’s Day approaches we will once again pause and reflect on the men and women who served their country. So many veterans today still serve their country, just not in uniform. Kudos to the Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club, whose members are honorably discharged U.S. military veterans who spearheaded the effort to replace 71 of the trees in the Memorial Park Grove. The trees and the restored Memorial Grove will be dedicated in a special public ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 11, which is Veterans Day. It’s good to see this under-appreciated park uplifted in time for next year’s 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. At the time the City of Fort Wayne and Indiana Tech were attempting to change the landscape and use of the park, the outpouring of love, honor and respect for the park catapulted the need for upgrading the park a priority and I am grateful to the Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club for heeding the call for action.

Roll call quilts and banners were made to raise funds for many war efforts:
Twenty years after the Civil War, Mary Morgan coordinated the efforts of the Women’s Relief Corps in 1883 to make a quilt with one embroidered square for each corps of the Union Army. The quilt was probably made for a fundraiser for surviving veterans, with scattered GAR initials referring to the Grand Army of the Republic. The creation of unique insignias for each corps reflects their iconographic memory as well as present needs to remember at the time of the quilt’s creation.

In East St. Louis, Illinois in 1919 the Red Cross Fund Raising Quilt project produced a machine-pieced, hand-embroidered and quilted 70” x 74.5” quilt to raise funds for the Red Cross. The names of the soldiers are featured with Red Stars and Gold Stars. Its center inscription suggests it was a welcome home for the 124th Field Artillery at the War’s end.

During WWII many communities honored their hometown soldiers by making a roll call quilt or banner. Some were made in patriotic color schemes and designs while others were more simple and made of scraps… after all there was a war going on.

In 2007 Betty Wood created a different type of roll call quilt using photos of soldiers who died in the Iraq War so they could be seen and remain nameless and faceless no more. Her version of a roll call quilt both honored the soldiers’ sacrifice and protested America’s involvement in the war.

This Saturday, whether you can get out to Memorial Park or not, at 11 a.m. take a moment to pause and reflect on the veterans, what they sacrificed to keep America free. And if you know a veteran, why not make their day by sending them a card with a personal note expressing to them your gratitude. Simple gestures often make big impacts.

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer