I wanted to say a little bit about where our Plus Quilt came from.
2013 was the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Much has been said on this topic, and I promise to bring it back around to quilting. For now, let's talk about hollowed ground in general.
Our country has many places of civic importance that have been dedicated and where tax money has been set aside to tend these places, both in our nation's boundaries and without. Some are cemeteries. Some are fields. Some are buildings, trees, museums or farms. Why do we do this, and is it necessary? A large population of school children visit these sites all year long. I know, I was just there again. And many retirees, with more time and resources at their disposal, choose to show up at these historic markers. Why?
The first time I went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I was 18. I was on a college American history tour. I remember giggling with the group as we poured out of the tour bus, not really ready to be fed more history, when I made my last step out and onto the cemetery ground and it all hit me. This place felt different. I listened more to the ranger that day, and I listened to the wind in the trees. My eyes tried to see further out from Little Round Top. I tried to hear the cannon and smell the smoke filled air. I realized right there in Gettysburg that all of this remembering and pilgrimaging matters.
It matters, simply because it happened. People died for what they believed was the good of our nation here. And one of the greatest speeches of all time was given by one of the greatest men of all time. Talk about being the right person at the right time, but that's another subject. I am proud to live in a country where heroism is preserved. I hope people keep coming and being inspired to be honorable in their own circles.
It was with all of this in mind that I started teaching my then nine year old about what the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg meant. We read the speech at dinner. Often. I made him watch the very long miniseries, you know, the one that made it impossible for me to not picture Jeff Daniels' character in Dumb and Dumber without a bayonet. I showed him pictures of trips I had made there, and other important places where liberty won.
In the meantime, I was quilting. I was creating my own version of the popular plus quilt, and making all of my pluses out of charcoal shot cotton. Life seeped in. Gettysburg seeped in, and the pluses turned into rows of crosses. I chose to make one plus red, for the soldiers who died during that three-day battle. I gifted the quilt to my son that Christmas and told him to always remember and always be brave.
Last fall we took our kids to the East Coast to fall in love with our country. And they did. It's not always a difficult country to love. I saw through their eyes how simple a love for one's country can be. The months of preparation and education about where we would go, and what they would see all paid off.
And sometimes we were silly too.
It must have all worked, because at Thanksgiving when we were all going around saying what we're thankful for, like video games and medicine and each other, my six year old said, "I'm thankful to be free." Me too, son.