The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

April 24, 2007


Tar Bees make quilts for the wounded

W. Terry Smith

Actions always speak louder than words and the efforts of the Tar Bees say they support our troops.

The Tar Bees of Tarboro are a dozen or so members of the Tar River Piecemakers Quilting Guild in Rocky Mount. The guild has about 100 members.

Several of the Tar Bees were on hand for the grand opening of the Edgecombe County Veterans Museum on Saturday. Mary Ann Shindle, Mary Ann Rettino and Cheryl Collins asked folks if they wanted to sign the colorful quilt squares and most did.

The 8-inch by 8-inch squares will be sewn together to make Quilts of Valor for combat wounded GIs returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Quilt guilds all over the United States are making similar 50-inch by 60-inch quilts. They are red, white and blue in a stars and stripes design.

Each of the wounded receives a quilt before flying back to the U.S.

"I am going to to have a pocket on the back of our quilt, enclose some newspaper clippings and tell them about our new veterans museum," said Shindle, 68.

The Tar Bees meet at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at St. James United Methodist Church. Members include Shindle, Rettino, Allison Boyette, Angie Grady, Carol Wittig, Gail Hussey, Mary Ann Coley, Martha Creech, Cora Dickens, Edie Baluss, Jeanette Schuhl, Frances Moore and Kathy Marler.

Shindle's husband Warren "Gus" Shindle was a Navy pilot and her son Warren W. Shindle went to Bosnia with the Army. Rettino, 65, was born on Dec. 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Quilts of Valor was started by Catherine Roberts of Seaford, Del., in November 2003. Roberts is a Blue Star mom (a mom who has a son or daughter in the military) and with a son in harm’s way, her vision of the world changed.

“Casualties no longer were just numbers but real men and women dying,” she said. “Hidden behind the casualties were the wounded.”

For every casualty there are 10 wounded.

Roberts made phone calls around the country trying to find out how she could start a project like this and ended up talking to Chaplain Kallerson at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The chaplain’s wife was a quilter and he understood what Roberts wanted to do.

Roberts now has contacts at 24 military hospitals and with various veterans groups around the country. These quilts provide comfort, love and healing prayers plus pay tribute to these combat wounded.