Pictured above (l-r): Betty Nielsen & Dennis Nielsen with the 9/11 Freedom Quilt
Freedom Quilts was honored to have its 9/11 Freedom Quilt displayed in its first-ever exhibition in the Fort Des Moines Museum in Des Moines, Iowa. The quilt was on display at the Museum on October 1st through November 11th, 2012.
Betty Nielsen commented that it was such a joy to have the 9/11 Freedom Quilt displayed at the Museum. Michael Kates, Tina Achebe, Sarch J. Myers and Lisa Whitmarsh Peterson expressed their pleasure at having the quilt displayed for all to see and remember that day, and to reflect on how they all felt on 9/11.
Message from Betty:
United we all were during that tragedy. It’s sad that it took something so devastating to bring us all together again, and yet so sad that we have gone back to forgetting what made us so strong to begin with. The 9/11 Freedom Quilt was made to remind us all of the love and caring we had for one another and how we came together to try and mend the hearts of those who were mourning. Let us never forget that day, and let us never forget what keeps this country going.
It took over two years to design the 9/11 Freedom Quilt. Visits with September 11th families provided Betty Nielsen with inspiration and a vision for this quilt — learning what touched families and what gave them the strength to carry on. The quilt was designed and pieced together by Betty. Dennis Nielsen embroidered each of the blocks as well as the beautiful quilting throughout the 9.11 Freedom Quilt.
Sponsored by the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) U.S. Army Reserve, the Quilt Gallery was opened as part of the launch of the Veterans and Soldiers Arts Program. Video programming detailed the journey of Betty and Dennis Nielsen (Veterans of the US Air Force) and how they mobilized the country to create quilts for families suffering the loss of loved ones in the US Terrorist Attacks. Renowned for their expertise and tenacity, The Nielsens’ are still making quilts upon request to comfort families.
Photos from the 9/11 Freedom Quilt Exhibit
Congratulations to Rachel Luken from Cherokee, IA! She was the was the winner of this year’s Victory Rally Quilt Raffle. Rachel’s winning ticket was drawn August 18th at the Spirit Lake Victory Rally. Congratulation Rachel for winning the quilt!
Rachel Luken, Winner of the Victory Rally Quilt
Freedom Quilts Tent at the Victory Motorcycle Rally
September 10, 2011
Quilt with Us in Memory of 9/11
Here are 3 ways you can get involved:
#1. Quilt with Us on 9/10 at the Freedom Quilts quilt shop.
For details, contact Betty Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 712.288.5328.
Click here for directions
#2. Can’t join us in person? You can still get involved!
Support Freedom Quilts by making a donation.
#3. Are you quilting at home in memory of 9/11?
Visit Freedom Quilts on Facebook and post a photo of your quilting project.
A Message from Betty Nielsen:
For those who can make it, we are quilting on September 10th in memory of 9/11. We started the Freedom Quilts project because of what happened on 9/11, and we want to continue to remember why we are doing this.
I know it’s going on 11 years now that we started this project, and who would have thought that, together, we would continue honoring and comforting families over a decade later. But we still are. So please, those of you who can come, please do.
As always, you’ll be greeted with friendship, a tasty potluck and plenty of quilting. We will have some ladies from Jefferson coming, and also our Albert City friends will be coming to help. I love how God brings us together to help those who need us. Thank you all for caring and being willing to come and help quilt on September 10th.
And, for our friends who live too far and can’t come — that is okay. Just pick up your fabric and quilt at home or with your group in honor of those who our country has lost. And, we will be thinking of you as we all quilt together in memory of 9/11.
This month alone, I received a total of 618 quilt requests. So, we have a long road ahead of us to fulfill all these important request. And as always, we will work our hardest, together, to honor our fallen heroes.
Freedom Quilts also thanks everyone who has generously made a donation to help keep us going. Without your help, we couldn’t do this. Your support helps purchase fabric, thread, pins and other materials critical to piecing together these precious honor quilts. Together, we all can make a huge difference, and it shows. Every time I send a quilt or present a quilt to the families, the appreciation is both heard and felt.
It is because of each of you that we can make that happen. When we join forces, we can truly make a difference. On September 11th, it will be a time to reflect on all the families who have lost a loved one on 9/11 and those families who have loss a love one fighting to keep us all safe. God bless them all.
- Betty Nielsen
August 26, 2012
Today, when I opened up my email, I received a letter that made me cry — it was this letter from Mary, step-mother to MSG Shawn T. Hannon. Each day, I am reminded of the many reasons I must continue this project. But still, some days, my body hurts, my mind is overwhelmed, and my soul feels stretched too thinly. I know why I must continue, but some days it’s hard. But in the end, it is families like the Hannon’s that guide me and let me know that yes, I need to continue! And yes, I must always use the talents that God gave me to bring comfort to families that need us.
Thank you, Mary, for giving me the strength to never give up. God bless you for this truly beautiful letter.
Letter from Mary Hanon, step-mother to MSG Shawn T. Hannon:
It has been a few weeks since we received the unexpected quilt from you that honors our son, MSG Shawn T Hannon’s memory. I hold your letter in front of me, I have read the words, I will read it over and over until I fully comprehend their meaning. Your unbelievable gift and concern is more than I can absorb all at once.
Nobody knows how much and how deep the grief will be until the Chaplain knocks on the door and asks for a moment of your time. Time is all you have, it is standing still while you pray the nightmare will end soon and everything will be alright, it was all a bad dream. Then the ceremonies begin while the family, the community, the world begins to understand, to mourn, to honor and share a memory of a soldier who volunteered to risk his life tor his Country and Countrymen.
We stood in the cold rain and waited as the big USAF plane delivered our three Ohio National Guardsmen home one last time. From our vantage point, we could not see which hearse awaited to know which flag draped coffin was ours. It didn’t really matter, we mourned all three. We traveled homeward in a three unit caravan with over 300 Patriot Guardsmen leading us, the westbound freeway entrances were blocked, thousands of people saluted as we passed by. Several eastbound freeway travelers stopped, exited their vehicles and stood silently, some saluting, some with hands over their hearts, all to honor these men.
The steets were lined with people standing in the rain in his hometown when we arrived. Thousands of people attended Shawn’s funeral services. He was taken to a small town about 100 miles away where his father’s family came from for a final resting place. Again, hundreds, maybe thousands of people lined the streets of Wellston and honored his life and sacrifice. They stood silently in dignity and support. The Mayor of the town had asked for volunteers to clean the cemetery the day before because the winter damages had not been removed. The effort went long into the night, children held flashlights for adults, the fire department used their lighting to guide the volunteers. Local businesses donated American flags, every business along the route excused employees to stand by the street with flags as we passed by. Every visible buisiness changed their signage with message of Thanks.
All the Pomp and Circumstance is over, the reality and grief still goes on, but the memory of the caring and support from the community and all over is comforting. Shawn believed in his Country and the goodness of his fellowmen. He sometimes thought we were straying from all we were meant to be and could be, even considering a political career at some point. He loved his law profession, wanted to see the fairness and justice as one and the same.
Your gift is more than a beautiful quilt that now stands in a place of honor. Your gift to us is knowing Shawn was a hero, his life and death meant something to people besides us who knew him. We shed a tear when the package came, but now our tears are different. The raw, knife-like pain is slowly being replaced with the pain of emptiness and bittersweet memories. It is comforting to read your words, to accept a gift of love from someone who didn’t know Shawn, but knows the millions of Shawns who stand guard for our freedom and ultimately give it their all.
Thank you for being a True American.
Mary, Shawn’s step-mother, and Wayne Hannon
When I design a quilt and put it together, my heart is always focused on the family member. “What would be right for them?” I wonder to myself. I take the time to work from the heart, for that is the only way I could make these quilts. And most of the times, as I’m making the quilts, I shed tears for those family members who have lost someone so dear.
The letters I write to the families also come from the heart. Each and every time I write a family member a letter, the tears come falling. Again, because it all comes from the heart.
Oh yes, I’ve been told that I can’t go on this way — crying and devoting so much of my emotional energy to Freedom Quilts Families. But I know I can, and should, because it is the grace of God that keeps me strong.
So many people are afraid to show emotions, and yet when we do, we show that we care. We let our guards down and reach out to care for someone we do not know. Our country is good for that. In fact, that is why we have such a great country.
August 25, 2012
Storm Lake Legion Riders are having a fundraiser to help Freedom Quilts continue making quilts for fallen soldiers’ families. On September 8th the Legion Rider plan a poker run. The money will to Freedom Quilts so we can buy more fabric and supplies to keep the mission going. All those who wish to join in and have fun on this poker run can contact Tim Schroeder at 712-660-2889 for more information. Sign up will be at the Cherokee Bowling Alley from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.
So come join the fun and help out a good cause!
September 8, 2012
Sign Up Location: Cherokee Bowling Alley
Sign Up Time: 11am – 12:30pm
Registration Fee: $10 per person
Contact: Tim Schroeder at 712-660-2889
Don’t have a motorcycle? That’s okay. You can still join in on the fun! You can drive your car to the poker run. The run will begin at the Cherokee Bowling Alley and will end at the Elks Lodge in Storm Lake, Iowa. Once at the Elks Lodge, be prepared for a great time! There will be a DJ and door prizes. Enjoy a meal at the Elks Lodge free of charge with a donation.
The Charity Poker Run is open to the public, so please come and enjoy!
July 14, 2012
Congratulations to Donna and Eugene Buckmiller from Des Moines, Iowa!
They are the winner of the 2012 Freedom Quilts Rafffle!
Last weekend, Betty and Dennis Nielsen made a visit to Des Moines to present the 2012 winning quilt to the lovely couple. Eugene told Betty and Dennis the story of how his mother would make quilts for the whole family. His mother enjoyed making quilts — it was comforting to her and a joy to make these treasures for the family. Eugene understood the labor of love that comes with making a quilt and the many hours it requires to complete one. His mother would hand-stitch the whole quilt, so it took many, many hours to complete each quilt.
Donna and Eugene said they planned on showing off their winning Freedom Quilt to the whole family, and with a sweet smile they said this one was theirs. Donna said she has never won anything, so it was truly amazing to win this quilt. Since Donna Buckmiller heard about the project Freedom Quilts, she has kindly helped Freedom Quilts continue it’s mission.
Thanks to Donna and other generous supporters like her, we have continued to make quilts for fallen heroes’ families. So congratulation on winning the 2012 Freedom Quilts! We are already working on the 2013 Freedom Quilts for next year, so keep an eye out later in the year when we’ll post photos of the 2013 raffle quilt.
In the meantime, please consider supporting Freedom Quilts today and join us in helping to comfort mourning families. Supporting Freedom Quilts is easy. Just click here to make make an online donation — every gift counts!
Our warmest thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s Annual Freedom Quilts Raffle.
Your support helps us to continue comforting families in need.
More photos of this year’s raffle quilt…
Click to see enlarged photo.
Click to see enlarged photo.
To view quilts from previous year’s raffles,
visit the Quilt Raffle Archive.
May 1, 2012
The families of honor gathered at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake, Iowa. Ushered in by limo and escorted by the Storm Lake Legion Riders, families arrived at the Freedom Quilts Shop at about 2:00 p.m. on April 7th, 2012.
The families honored during this special event were:
Mary Van Cannon from Iowa
Mother of CSM Marilyn Gabbard
David Muhr from Iowa
Father of SPC Shawn Muhr
Jim and Diane Balsley from Iowa,
Parents of Spc Michael Balsley
Sondra and Andy Andrews from Texas,
Parents of 2nd Lt Darryn Andrews
Monica McNeal from Washington State,
Mother of Lcpl Eric Ward
Hover your mouse over “notes” in the lower right-hand corner to see detailed photo captions.
Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer
Click here to view the full-screen slideshow.
The families of honor rode through a beautiful avenue of flags held tall and strong by the Spencer Legion Riders and Polk City Legion Riders. The avenue of flags stretched from the Nielsen’s driveway all the way to the Quilt Shop. Families were honored with a 21-Gun Salute and a performance of taps.
Once the families were inside the Quilt Shop, the program commenced by honoring our fallen soldiers with the battle cross. Kary Dean then sang the National Anthem and all joined in to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Brad Wilkening, a very good friend of Freedom Quilts, was the emcee. Here is how the rest of this heart-felt day unfolded…
Father Siby led us in prayer.
Congressman Steve King gave the opening speech.
Congressman King truly spoke from the heart, and his message rang true through all of our hearts and minds… Our service men and women are very important to this country. The families were truly touched to have Congressman King honor and remember their loved ones.
Colonel Steven Altman shared an important reminder for us all.
Colonel Steven Altman urged all of us to remember that when we support our soldiers’ families, it makes it easier for them to do their jobs.
*** PRESENTATION OF QUILTS ***
Presentation of Quilt to
Mary Van Cannon, Mother of Command Sgt Major Marilyn Gabbard
Marilyn loved shooting pool and playing cards. She was a proud member of the M&M family — “M&M” because their names all started with the letter M. The quilt was adorned with pictures of Marilyn when she was little, and as she was growing up. The quilt also had many embroidered images that spoke a story of Marily’s loves and passions. A convertible mustang was embroidered onto the quilt, along with dogtags, an emblem of the service where she honorably served, combat boots, a heart with “M & M”, a great card-playing hand, a Hawkeye, golf club and fishing, for she loved fishing.
Presentation of Quilt to
David Muhr, Father of SPC Shawn Muhr
Shawn loved wrestling and football. His number was 77, and they called him “The Ox”. Shawn also loved fishing. When Shawn was a young boy, he once caught a walleye that he he was so proud of, he wanted to have it mounted. But as his dad recalled, the walleye was really, really small — much too small to have mounted. David smiled as he talked about his son’s fish story, and he made the rest of group chuckle right along with him. Shawn also loved hunting, and he loved his Bud light — which was also included on the quilt. The quilt had Shawn’s emblem of service, dogtags, and combat boots. The quilt also had plenty of photos of Shawn. As always, these photos show that he had a life full of things he loved doing, and a family that loved him so very much. And, that Shawn wanted to do more — he wanted to reach out and protect us all.
Presentation of Quilt to
Jim Balsley, Vietnam Veteran and Father of SPC Michael Balsley
As a Vietnam Veteran, Jim Balsley understood war and the pain that went with it. Jim talked about his son being 4 years old and how, even at that young age, he wanted to serve his country. Jim would tell his son, Michael, war stories. And Michael told his dad that he wanted to join the services so, one day, he could tell his own war stories.
Presentation of Quilt to
Sondra and Andy Andrews, Parents of 2nd Lt Darryn Andrews
Sondra and Andy came all the way from Texas to receive their quilt, which was full of memories. Their son Darryn was in the Voice of Democracy, he was in football, basketball, loved mountain climbing, fishing and flying kites. Most of all, he loved his son and was so proud of his little boy. His beautiful wife was pregnant, and unfortunately, 2nd Lt Darryn Andrews never got to see his little girl. Sondra and Andy also received two quilts to take back for their grandchildren — we never forget the children of our fallen.
Presentation of Quilt to
Monica McNeal, Mother of CLPL Eric Ward
Eric was a handsome young man. “Oh to look into those eyes, you couldn’t help but to melt,” his mother said. She talked about a gray cat that Eric once wanted, and she just couldn’t say no to him. And on the quilt, there was a little gray cat. Oh and breakfast, he loved breakfast. Then there was the song Monica used to sing to her little boy each night before bedtime — You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine. Eric was also very into sports, and was loved by many. He had such a beautiful smile that you just couldn’t say no to him.
Each of the families received a rose and a gift certificate. The families were in awe with their quilts and promised to spread the word to those who haven’t yet received one. It was a day to remember, a day for the families to know they were not alone — that others honor and respect their love ones.
We hope parents of fallen heroes and their spouse come forward, so that we can also honor them. Please email Betty at email@example.com or call her at 712-288-5328 for more information on joining us for next year’s event. We hope next year to honor other families as they come forward with a quilt request.
Many Special Thanks
We wish to extend a very special thank you to the following people. This event would not have been possible without their warm generosity.
Generous donors who contributed funds so families could stay at King’s Pointe:
Brad and Shelly Anderson
Terry A Argotsinger
Denise Sassman Agency
Ed and Becky Dewey
Michell and Tristan Fassler
Fred and Danielle Jackson
Desi and Larry Suter
Mr. A. P. Wilhelm
Storm Lake Legion Riders for escorting families of honor.
King Limo Service for donating their limo services so the families
could be treated like royalty and driven in style.
Spencer Legion Riders and Polk City Legion Riders
for the 21-Gun Salute and Avenue of Flags.
Congressman Steve King for joining us
and delivering an eloquent, touching opening speech.
Colonel Steven Altman for joining us in honoring our fallen heroes.
And, special thanks to the families who allowed us to honor them
and the memory of their loved one.
February 19, 2012
Freedom Quilts is having it’s big event on April 7th to honor six fallen soldiers’ families. We actually mail most of our quilts to families, but once a year we have a special ceremony so families can come to our shop and receive their quilts in person.
During the event, we honor families and their loved ones by having the Legion Riders, our quilters, and others come and help remember our fallen heroes and their families. Most of the time the families are from Iowa, but sometimes we are honored with out-of-state families who have traveled to our Quilt Shop to receive a quilt in person.
This year we have three families from out-of-state and three from Iowa.
2nd Lt Darryn Andrews’ mother is coming to receive her quilts
and the quilt for two of her grandchildren.
SP5 Donald Grella’s sister is coming to receive her quilt in place of her mother.
LCPL Eric L. War’s mother is coming to receive a quilt.
SPC Michael Balsley’s father and wife are coming.
CSM Marilyn Gabbard’s mother is coming.
SPC DAvid Muhr’s father is coming.
All will be honored all we receive a quilt honoring their love ones.
April the 7th is my birthday, and normally I wouldn’t be having a special event like this on my birthday. But this was the only time that I could have it. Since we farm, we would also have to spend springtime getting ready for fieldwork and planting. So, to make sure we weren’t rushing things, we decided to have the event on April 7th.
Please take the time to remember these families and all others who have gone through what these families have. Let them know they are important and so are the loved ones they have lost.
I also would like to thank everyone who helps make this project possible, because without your generous contributions of time and donations, we would not be able to bring the comfort that we do with our quilts.
Thank you for caring and making a huge difference to each of the families we have touched.
Founder of Freedom Quilts
Support Freedom Quilts and
Enter into a Drawing to Win this Quilt!
Scroll down to find out how…
Here’s how YOU can enter to win. For this year’s annual fundraiser, Freedom Quilts will be raffling another quilt made with lots of love. You can help Freedom Quilts by entering into the quilt raffle with a donation — for every $25.00 you get to put your name in for a chance to win this beautiful quilt. So, if you give a donation of $50.00 your name will be put into the drawing twice, and so on.
To enter into the drawing, please make your check out to:
13637 550th St
Fonda, IA 50540
The drawing will be on July 4th, and you don’t have to be present to win. We will deliver the quilt or mail it to you. We’ll also notify everyone of the winner right here on our website.
Your gift matters. Day after day, we receive quilt requests from families in pain. Because of the kind donations we’ve received from people like you, Freedom Quilts has given hope to people all over the country who have mourned the loss of a loved one. Together, we have shown these families that we do care.
Please join us whether through the raffle or just by giving a donation,
and help to bring love and comfort to a family in need.
More photos of this year’s raffle quilt…
Click to see enlarged photo.
Click to see enlarged photo.
We are pleased to share that last year’s quilt raffle was a success. Funds raised were enough to cover the cost of quilting supplies and care packages through 2011. Freedom Quilts supporter Dolores Caproni from Berlin, Maryland won last year’s quilt raffle.
January 29, 2012
Today I would like to honor to a very special friend. Her name is Camille Doyle, and she passed away January 25, 2012. I also want to honor Uncle Earl Nielsen, my husband’s uncle who also passed away on the same day.
I wonder why God keeps taking all the good ones, because Uncle Earl was a very kind and gentle man. He was very loving and giving to everyone. And Camille, the mother of Joe Doyle, is now with her son in heaven. All the pain, all the heartache, and all the sadness are weights she no longer has to carry, for she is with her beloved son. But her loving husband and family and friends now mourn for her. She was truly a great woman.
I meet Camille on the 5th Anniversary of 9/11. It was Bill and Camille Doyle who helped my daughter and I join all the families at the reflecting pool for the 5th memorial of 9/11. We placed our roses on ground zero right along with the rest of the families. Bill and Camille were one of the many whose son was murdered on 9/11. Both Bill and Camille made it their job to help others who were going through the same pain by updating families as to what was going on. Even with all they were going through, they still worked hard at keeping families informed.
Camille was not just a loving wife, she was a wonderful mother grandmother. And yes, a great friend. If you had the honor of getting to meet Camille, you were lucky because you got to see this loving caring person who was so willing to open her heart to help anyone. She is in heaven now, and is no longer suffering. She leaves behind all of us who were honored to meet her and see what a great person she truly was.
As for my husband’s uncle Earl, he was truly a wonderful person, and his loss is felt by all of us who loved him.