NASELLEE — Former Naselle resident and avid quilter Ruth (Torppa) Miller plans to present “Quilts of Valor” to local area veterans at the July 28 opening ceremony for the Naselle Finnish-American Folk Festival.
Providing quilts to veterans originated with Delaware resident Catherine Roberts in 2003. Reportedly, her idea originated with a dream about a despairing war veteran whose attitude changed to one of hope and wellbeing when wrapped in a quilt. The first Quilt of Valor was given in 2003 to a soldier who lost a leg while serving in Iraq.
More volunteers joined in and the Quilts of Valor Foundation was formed, with a mission “to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” So far more than 190,000 of the quilts have been awarded to veterans all around the U.S.
“I’ve been quilting for almost 50 years,” Miller said. “I started about the time our son was born and he’s 48 now. Over the years, I’ve been giving quilts to charities, fundraisers and family members. Since my family members have enough quilts, I needed to find another outlet.”
In the process of finding a speaker for a quilters meeting last year, Miller learned more about the program, “and decided this was something I wanted to do. I’ve been quilting pretty much non-stop since October to present quilts to veterans from my hometown area of the Naselle-Grays River Valley.”
Quilters are assembling a list of local veterans, for example by attending the Deep River American Legion’s Pancake Breakfast in May.
“Several of them I knew as freshman and sophomores when I was a senior at Naselle High School,” Miller said. “Naselle resident and World War II veteran John Bergquist was under the weather and I stopped by his home and presented him with his Quilt of Valor. It was a moving experience for me and, based on his comments, much appreciated by him. I’m now attempting to contact each of the veterans on my list to find out if they can be present at the opening of the upcoming Finnish-American Folk Festival on July 28.”
Miller and others hope to have as many as 30 quilts to give out at the festival.
“I am looking forward to presenting these veterans with the quilts and letting them know much they are loved and appreciated for their service to our country,” she said.