Sunday, March 24, 2013

It has a New Home!

I never planned on selling this quilt. I made it just for me and my son, to help me deal with the thought that my only child was going to be a Marine and probably go off to war. That was very difficult for me to handle but as all quilters do when faced with challenges; I went to the studio and put my feeling into cloth. There are tears in that fabric. 
I looked at all kinds of patriotic subject matter before I realized it HAD to be a flag.   
My idea was to visualize this quilt years later on the wall in my son’s office when he is an old man. We both made it through the trial of war and came out the other side.

I started to take the quilt with me on the road when I did trunk shows around the country. I had no idea the emotion it would cause in others as I showed it. It was overwhelming and very special, so this quilt is for all the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of soldiers through all the wars who, like me, have given their loved ones for our country to be free.  This quilt is not mine, it’s ours!

I had to write a story for a newspaper about my quilt and this is what I said:

As all parents do, we want a better life for our child.  Joe and I wanted Matt to be able to go to college without the financial burden that we had. He graduated with a degree in mathematics and we were so proud to say that he was the first Bula to graduate with a college degree.  But 2 days later he joined the United States Marines. I was proud and very worried. You see, he is my only child, not that a mother with more than one doesn't have the same feelings.  It just hit me hard.

We stood at the front of the church when he was 1 year old and dedicated him to the Lord and promised that we would raise him up to be the man that God had made him to be. I was thing maybe God wanted a dentist. 

We all went to see him graduate from boot camp that August day in 2010. How proud we were.  That day I saw all the other families that were going through the same feelings as us. I noticed all the flags denoting the various states represented and other countries from which the new Marines had come.  I was amazed how many countries were represented but, of course, that’s what America is — a land of immigrants.

I noticed a young Nigerian man marching at the head of the battalion and carrying the flag for his platoon. My son had told how the other Marines in the Nigerian’s battalion questioned him about life in his West African country. He immigrated here when he was only 14 years old. His days in Africa were spent running from danger and searching for food for his family and there he stood as a Marine holding his battalion flag proudly at the head of the line.
Compared to my own son, whom they’d raised with many advantages, a safe home and plenty of food, I realized that every Marine and every family there told a different story.
I was determined to never forget that day.  As an artist I express my feelings through quilting. I started making the flag quilt immediately when I arrived home from the ceremony, and during the process I cried many tears.  I cried for my only son going off to war and all the other mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, wife's and husbands, that I knew felt the same way.

I made this quilt for the families whose children didn't come home.
I made it for my uncle who had no choice in the 60s and was drafted into Vietnam, served as a Marine, and when he came home, he was spit upon, and I cried again.  I cried for the young men I heard about who have come home struggling to readjust.
Generations of my family have fought for America to keep it free and safe, but I had forgotten that some of these new patriots came to the United States recently for the same reasons and now wanted to stand by this beautiful flag.  I dedicate this quilt to all military men and women.  Because of them, we can say “…and our flag is still there.”

You can see this quilt at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.
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