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SSC-Natick Press Release

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

Contact: Jerry Whitaker -- Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: September 28, 2004
No: 04-38

Employees recognized for assistance with quilts

NATICK, Mass. -- Four employees with the Parachute Prototype Facility at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here were recognized Sept. 24 for their assistance with the Sept. 11 Commemorative Quilts that were displayed across the country and now are a permanent exhibit at the Pentagon.

Linda Cooney, Joseph Duarte, Carrie Rutkowski and Barbara Sharp each received a Pentagon-shaped medallion, and the group accepted a certificate of appreciation from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and American flag that flew over the Pentagon Aug. 30, 2002, in remembrance of the victims.

The group lent their expertise in fabrics by hand-sewing muslin donated by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a sleeve holder for nine of the nearly 70 handmade quilts sent to the Pentagon after the terrorist attack.

The delicate task was new for the fabric workers who normally operate machines to construct military airdrop products, and it was an emotional experience for them.

"It brought us to tears reading some of the things that were written on the quilts," said Cooney. "It was fun and interesting. I wish there were more."

Frank Dawson, liaison officer for the Veterans Health Administration National Office of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, coordinated the display of the quilts locally at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell. During his presentation of the gifts, he expressed how this act promotes the idea of Army family.

He also recounted how he ended up turning to the Parachute Prototype Facility for assistance. "Who has big, long tables and sewing machines?" he said, recalling the search for someone to take on the job. "We called and found this place."

The collection has since grown to more than 100, with new quilts remembering the sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to June Forte, a public affairs specialist with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, who took on the project of preserving the quilts.

"I'm not a curator of quilts, so I had no idea how to hang them or take care of them," she said. "Quilts are more than just pieces of fabric. I kept thinking, 'What would people like to see 100 years from now?' Hopefully, these quilts will last."

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This page last updated on 23 January 2004.