Quilters offer warm salute to veterans

DeKALB — “It’s a privilege and an honor.”

That’s how Ralph Karau felt about receiving the handmade quilt that lay on the table next to him at the DeKalb County Rehab & Nursing Center in DeKalb Dec. 7.

Karau was one of four brothers who served in World War II, including one who was killed, and was one of 27 veterans residing at the nursing center who received a quilt from the DeKalb County Quilters Guild during a special ceremony on Pearl Harbor Day.

“We want to show we honor and respect everything you do to protect our freedom,” Bobbie Lundberg of the guild told the assembled veterans when making the presentation. “There’s nothing better than freedom.”

Lundberg said her group became involved with the Home of the Brave project, which presents quilts to the families of fallen U.S. soldiers, about five years ago. The guild’s 100 members made the tops of the quilts, and the quilts were finished by Cousins Quilting of Lamoille.

“We got over-involved,” she laughed.

Since they had so many more quilts than they needed, Lundberg said the group decided to distribute them to living veterans in area nursing homes. If they have enough, they plan to take the rest to Bethany Health Care & Rehabilitation Center, Pine Acres and Oak Crest.

“We were originally going to do this on Veterans Day,” Lundberg said. “But there was so much going on, so we settled for Pearl Harbor Day.”

JoAnn Russell, who is in charge of the local project, said she met a woman a couple of years ago whose son was killed in battle. Russell said the woman keeps her quilt on the arm of a living room chair, and it helps her get through the day.

“Hearing that encouraged us to go on,” Russell said.

Assisted by 12 members of honor guards from DeKalb, Sycamore, Waterman and Genoa, each veteran at the county home was presented with a quilt, thanked for his service and saluted.

Each quilt, Lundberg said, has the same pattern, but different fabric. All are based on the quilts given to soldiers on both sides during the Civil War, who slept in them and often were buried with them.

“This is a real honor for us,” nursing center activity director Kate Vickers said, “Anytime we can show our support we are very grateful.”

“It’s a wonderful thing to know,” veteran Wilbur Zekoff said.

His brother Richard, who also lives at the center, agreed, saying it was a nice show of respect for what veterans went through.

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