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Quilts of Valor recipients and quilters at the 2023 Kiowa County Veterans Day Dinner. (R to L) Joe Shields, Carole Spady, Howard “Butch” Robertson, Michelle Nelson, Darul Frederick.

Honoring Heroes: Veterans Day Dinner in Eads Celebrates Sacrifice and Valor

By Raina Lucero

November 17, 2023

The local American Legion Post #125 held their annual Veterans Day Dinner at the Kiowa County Community Building in Eads, in order to pay tribute to its local heroes, a poignant event that combined gratitude, warmth, and the artistry of Quilts of Valor. The dinner, held on November 11, 2023, was a heartfelt celebration of the brave men who served their country, adorned with the presentation of meticulously crafted quilts.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation, represented by Carole Spady and Michelle Nelson, from Haswell and member of the Colorado Prairie Quilters Guild played a central role in the evening’s proceedings. Carole Spady expressed the passion and dedication invested by the quilting community into each quilt. These handcrafted tokens of appreciation require countless hours of labor and are offered to veterans as a symbol of the community’s gratitude.

Spady shed light on the intricate process of awarding Quilts of Valor, emphasizing the careful consideration given to each veteran. From asking permission to filling out paperwork, to the delicate interview process, the goal is to honor the veterans while respecting their experiences, while at the same time avoiding any topics that may trigger PTSD. Carole underscored the challenge of convincing heroes, who often downplay their deeds, to accept the recognition they deserve.

Michelle Nelson shared insights into the artistic side of the endeavor, detailing the quilt pattern used and the hours invested in creating these beautiful pieces of comfort. The heartfelt effort put into every stitch is a reflection of the quilters’ deep respect for the sacrifices made by the veterans.

The ceremony continued with individual stories of valor, sacrifice, and service. The first veteran honored was Darul Frederick, a Kiowa County native who served in Korea during the Korean DMZ Conflict. Carole Spady narrated Darul’s journey from Eads to Korea, patrolling the DMZ in freezing temperatures, a testament to his dedication and courage. Darul’s quilt, a symbol of gratitude and comfort, encapsulates the appreciation of a grateful community.

Next, Howard “Butch” Robertson, a current Kiowa County Commissioner, took the spotlight. Drafted into the Army in 1970, Butch’s journey was cut short due to health issues, but his commitment to service and subsequent involvement in the American Legion showcased his enduring dedication to community and country.

The evening’s final honoree, Town of Eads Mayor Joseph Shields’ story, a Navy veteran with a rich history of service, brought the audience into the turbulent times of the Six Day War and the USS Liberty incident. Joe’s journey from the Navy to education and public service exemplified a life dedicated to community betterment.

As each veteran received their quilt, the room echoed with heartfelt applause, standing ovations, and a palpable sense of gratitude. Carole Spady and Michelle Nelson, along with the Quilts of Valor Foundation, emphasized their privilege in honoring these local heroes and the importance of recognizing the sacrifices made by the veterans.

In closing, the Quilts of Valor presentation at the Veterans Day Dinner in Eads was not just an event; it was a collective expression of appreciation, warmth, and respect. The quilts wrapped around the shoulders of these heroes symbolize more than fabric and thread—they embody the unwavering gratitude of a community for the courage and sacrifice of its veterans.

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