Veteran Stan Hobbs of Brookings was recently honored by the Azalea Quilters’ Guild with a Quilt of Valor for his service in the Vietnam War.

The nationwide movement is dedicated to “covering service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts of valor,” the national Quilts of Valor Foundation website reads. A matching pillowcase and certificate are included.

“A lot of people think these are just distributed during Azalea Festival,” said guild Chairwoman Georgeann Rudicel. “But it’s a very deserving cause.”

She, Carrie Washabaught and Doni Boyd, the chair for the Quilts of Valor effort, gave Hobbs his quilt, which featured blocks with bands of red, white and blue patriotic motifs June 26. Quilt guild members made the blocks and Boyd sewed them together.

The themes are patriotic — and therefore, most often featuring red, white and blue fabric — and can be done in any pattern.

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid,” Pres. Harry S. Truman said in 1945 — a quote cited on the organization’s website. “They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”

The quilt movement was founded by Catherine Roberts of Seaford, Delaware, in a dream in 2003, when her son, Nat, was deployed in Iraq.

“The dream was as vivid as real life,” Catherine reported on the Quilts of Valor Foundation website. “I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair. I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter.

“Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and well-being. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was, ‘Quilts equal healing.’”

Since then, more than 191,000 quilts have been made nationwide and given to veterans in the past 15 years.

Twenty-four quilts were distributed during this April’s Azalea Festival’s quilt show, bringing the total to 28 so far for the year in Brookings, Rudicel said. Some veterans were moved to tears as they were wrapped in their new blanket and given a hug of appreciation.

“He was overwhelmed; I don’t think he’s been recognized in the past,” Rudicel said of Hobbs. “It wasn’t expected. It meant a lot to him.”

The quilts are made here year-round by guild members for the Azalea Festival. This spring’s festival was the second at which quilts were distributed, and the event attracted more than 100 people to see veterans from all wars receive their gifts.

Azalea Quilters’ Guild also makes quilts for the Soroptimists’ community baby shower for new mothers in Brookings.

Nominations for next year’s Quilts of Valor event can be sent to Boyd at nequilter@gmail.com .

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