Sometimes hometown news is the best antidote to the national tidal wave of despair you see on the networks and read about in the metro newspapers.
This morning, I woke up after spending the previous night proofreading and laying primary election copy to catch up on the news in good ol’ Chino Valley, Arizona. In this week’s edition of the Chino Valley Review, there’s a front page story about an Army veteran who received a quilt made out of his old uniforms from a local quilters’ group.
There’s just something heartwarming about a story involving people helping our veterans, especially since they’re getting rough treatment from veterans affairs hospitals. It’s also a reminder of how warm and giving small towns are.
Justin Edwards served in the U.S. Army until 2013, including nine months in Afghanistan, according to the story penned by Review editor Ken Sain. He spent six years in the National Guard and another two in the active reserves. Today, Edwards serves in a different way—working at the local Café 89 restaurant. That same restaurant is where the Sew Fine Quilters Friendship, a group that is part of the Chino Valley Quilters, meets on a regular basis, and Edwards approached the group to see if the members would be interested in his unusual project.
Edwards had his old uniforms that he no longer needed, not only the ones when he initially served, but an additional set because the style was changing just as he was leaving Afghanistan. Nine months after the quilters agreed to take on the project, they presented one quilt for Edwards and a second quilt for his 10-year-old son, Chase.
The reason it took nine months was because your typical Army uniform, just like your typical soldier, is made of sterner stuff than a T-shirt. The quilters found it challenging to deconstruct the uniforms, which had to be done before being combined with Hawaiian fabrics to make the actual quilts.
Two points in the story really touched me. The first was where Edwards tried to pay the ladies for the quilts, and they told him to put his wallet away, because his service was more than enough payment.
The second point was at the end, when it was reported that the friendship group put tags on the back of both quilts that read, “We live in the home of the free because of the brave.”
The story made me wish for a moment I was back in Chino Valley, covering the story. Growing up in a small town made me appreciate living in a close-knit society and instilled in me a faith in the people who defend our country. While I’ve covered a variety of news in my life, most of my favorite stories are the ones showing neighborly love and selfless action, the stories where there is a happy ending. It’s that kind of news that reminds us that the world does not revolve around presidential elections, school shootings and the other nightmares that exist.
Thanking a veteran vocally for serving this country is easy. Making a quilt for him—now that’s gratitude.