BROOKSVILLE — The Community Center was packed with over 100 people for a special ceremony last Saturday afternoon.
Brooksville’s veterans, 35 in all, were each honored with a unique homemade quilt, lovingly sewn by Brooksville volunteers who coordinated their efforts with the nationwide Quilts of Valor Foundation.
The ceremony began with a march of the color guard from the Maine Maritime Academy Regimental Drill Team as a three-piece band played the national anthem.
Barbara Cheney gave a short speech while representing the Daughters of the American Revolution, followed by a speech by Lorraine Dyer, who represented the Brooksville Historical Society.
Only about 900 people live in Brooksville, but Dyer said the town has produced two Medal of Honor recipients. Of those medals, one was earned in the Civil War and the other in the Spanish-American War.
“Today we’re celebrating our living veterans,” Dyer said. “These quilts will become heirlooms and admired by future generations.”
Donna Brookings, the Quilts of Valor coordinator for the state of Maine, said the nationwide organization has made over 170,658 quilts since it started in 2003.
“This quilt is only a small token of us to say thank you for your sacrifices,” she said. “You are forever in our hearts and thoughts.”
The Brooksville veterans served in all branches of the armed forces: 17 in the Army, seven in the Navy, six in the Air Force, two in the Coast Guard, two in the Marines and one in the Air National Guard.
Once each man had his quilt, they all stood before the stage as the band played “America the Beautiful.”
After the ceremony, Brookings said each quilt takes anywhere from eight hours to six months to complete, depending on the level of detail in the quilt.
The 11 Brooksville quilters started working on the project last fall. One of them, Shirley Morrissey, made a quilt for her husband, John Ashmore, who served in the Army.
Morrissey also made three other quilts, but just because Veterans Day is over doesn’t mean she’s done making more. Morrissey wants to make a quilt for Ashmore’s son, Robert, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
“Each time you make one, you feel the love for your veteran,” she said.