PARIS — On Nov. 9, the Maine Veterans’ Home displayed the “Honor the Brave” quilt created by Donna Gillis of Bethel. The display of the hand quilted piece honoring all men and women who have served and are serving this great country was a perfect complement to the annual Veterans Day Ceremony held at the facility.
Gillis explained that the idea was born when a customer mentioned to her that she had a friend who was in the service and would like to leave his story somewhere. This quilt is the result of that conversation.
Gillis created a quilt featuring red, white and blue stars and stripes. The entire surface of the flag is comprised of lined pockets that hold 3-by-5 index cards for people to write short notes. Surrounding the flag are more pockets, each representing the wars and interventions in which the United States military has served. The larger pockets hold composition books for people to write longer stories if they wish.
There is also a hidden message in the hand-embroidered quilt, which reads: “To all the men and women who have served and are serving this great country. For bearing the scars of war, you are all heroes.”
Gillis explained to the attendants at the Veterans Day program that her intention is to make this a traveling flag. Its first stop was the Maine Veterans Home in Paris, where it stayed for three days before moving to Pat’s Pizza in Bethel.
There has been discussion about having it circulated to the other Maine Veterans’ Homes around the state, including Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Machias and Scarborough.
Gillis inserted the first card into a pocket in memory of her dad, Army Sgt. Robert J. Sheerin, who served in World War II in the 535th Air Engineering Squadron, 72nd Air Service Group.
Several veterans and family members contributed cards to the pockets of the quilt before its departure from the 90-bed facility.