Private First Class Shane Pires hugs Lacey resident Carla Sontag, who made his quilt.
With Independence Day around the corner, Secretary of State Kim Wyman recognized and honored six American soldiers who are members of the Warrior Transition Battalion during the opening ceremony for the Quilts of Valor exhibit Tuesday afternoon in the front lobby of the Office of Secretary of State in the Legislative Building.
Wyman and her longtime friend and neighbor, Woody Stone, the outreach coordinator for the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord, presented six members of the Warrior Transition Battalion with quilts that were handmade by members of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. These soldiers represent a larger portion of the armed forces who have the commonalities of being active duty, wanting to serve, and are currently in a transition period as a result of a complex medical issue. After their transition, one third are retrained to do something similar within the military, and the remaining majority re-enter the civilian world. The quilts help bridge the transition period by providing the support of a community.
With his quilt hanging in the background, Private First Class Bryan Box stands with Jubilee Quilts of Valor Club members who made the quilt for him. The club is based in Lacey.
The six soldiers who received a quilt at the event were: Specialist Cyril Suh originally from Cameroon; Specialist Artis Larry, Missouri; Private First Class Samantha Terrazas, Wyoming; Private First Class Bryan Box, California; Private First Class Shane Pires, Michigan; and Private First Class Christian Barnett, California.
TVW will post the event on its website and will air it this Wednesday at 11:30 p.m., Thursday at 12:30 p.m. and several additional times over the next couple of weeks.
More than 30 nominations for quilts were received from all corners of the state, and 13 were chosen to be honored in the Office of Secretary of State. Many of the quilters are Washington residents and were also present at the opening ceremony.
Carol Olsen, the regional director of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, was also an honored guest at the event. Olsen was inspired to become involved with the foundation when her daughter was deployed in Iraq. Many of the foundation members such as Diane Watters of Spokane, Linda Schmitt of Olympia and Sharon Maloney of Lacey expressed having a similar experience when wanting to join Quilts of Valor. Wyman gave the quilters special recognition and thanked them for the love and care they have put into the quilts, as well as their talent and creativity they have shared with the public and the soldiers who have received them.
Wyman said she felt honored to have these beautiful quilts that are handmade by the volunteers from across Washington as a way to honor and thank veterans and wounded warriors for their service and sacrifice in keeping America safe.
“Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor. We are grateful to you and your families for all you have done for our country. We are honored to have the opportunity to present you with these quilts in appreciate of your service,” Wyman said.