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Public Affairs Office title

U.S. Army Soldier & Biological Chemical Command
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340
amssb-opa@natick.army.mil

Date: September 3, 2002
No: 02-41

Soldier Systems Center helps with Sept. 11 quilt display

NATICK, Mass. -- The opening exhibition of Sept. 11 commemorative quilts will be made possible in part because of the handiwork of four members of the U.S. Army Soldier System Center's Parachute Prototype Shop.

Nearly 65 handmade quilts were spontaneously sent to the Pentagon from elementary school pupils, military family members and others after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Thirty of those quilts will be on display at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell Sept. 2-13 as part of an extended tour across the country before finding a permanent home.

Since nine of the quilts to be displayed were constructed without sleeves, which are necessary to slide in a hanging rod without damaging the fabric, June Forte, a public affairs specialist at the Pentagon and curator for the quilts, requested and secured help from the Soldier Systems Center.

"The quilts are a national treasure, and with the Parachute Prototype Shop's efforts, they will be shown in their best light and be appreciated for generations to come," Forte said in a letter to Philip Brandler, Natick Soldier Center director. "I can't thank you enough."

Coordinated by Linda Cooney, the shop took in the quilts ranging from 12 inches to more than 12 feet across sent in travel trunks. Some represent colorful U.S. flags while others have poems.

"It's almost been emotional when you see what the kids have written on them," Cooney said. "It's been a little heartbreaking. I don't think the kids knew how important these quilts were going to be."

Cooney along with co-workers Barbara Sharp, Joseph Duarte and Carrie Rutkowski spent dozens of hours hand-sewing muslin donated from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the top of the quilts. The delicate task was new for the fabric workers who normally are busy constructing military airdrop products.

"We do some hand-sewing. Most of it is on machine," Cooney said. "It's out of our realm, but it's easy to pick up. These all have to be hand done. There's no way to shorten the time it takes to complete."

Lowell was selected as the first exhibition site for the collection because of its textile history and because Massachusetts was one of the leaders of the American Revolution, according to Forte.

The exhibit will be open during regular museum hours of 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends, although extended hours will be available on Sept. 5, 11 and 12, when the museum will stay open until 8 p.m. Children younger than 16 and military servicemembers will be admitted for free. Admission will be free to all during the extended hours and on Sept. 11.

The Soldier Systems Center is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information about SBCCOM or SSC, please visit our website at http://www.sbccom.army.mil.

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