(Posted May 9, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
That’s what Honor Flight Columbus is all about–showing appreciation to senior military veterans. First, by providing them with a free trip to visit the war memorials in the nation’s capital. And second, by giving them a warm welcome home at trip’s end.
Soon, the handiwork of some Madison County residents will be part of the gift package these veterans receive, thanks to connections made by Marilyn Lowery, a receptionist at Madison County Senior Center and an Honor Flight volunteer.
Ten times in the past four years–including her most recent trip on April 9–Lowery has hopped on a plane bound for Washington D.C. from Columbus. Each time, she has served as a guardian, accompanying veterans on Honor Flight’s one-day, there-and-back trips.
She has witnessed firsthand how grateful the veterans are to see the tributes to their service. And back at the airport at the end of each trip, she has seen their emotions swell as hundreds of family members and others greet them.
“Some are moved to tears,” Lowery said. “I’ve heard numerous times, especially from the Vietnam veterans, that this is the welcome they did not get when they came home from the service.”
As part of the welcome-home ceremony, each veteran receives an American flag and a blanket, among other items. This year, Honor Flight Columbus is making seven trips to D.C., transporting 90 to 100 veterans each time. That’s a lot of flags…and a lot of blankets. And that got Lowery to thinking.
“We have quilters who meet at the Senior Center on Tuesdays. I told them about it, and they jumped right on it,” Lowery said.
That was less than two months ago. Now, Lowery is preparing to deliver nearly 25 handmade lap quilts and wheelchair quilts to the Honor Flight office in Columbus.
“We’re all the time donating things we make,” said Chris Hart, a regular at the Turnip Patch, as the group is known.
The quilters have made fabric tissue box covers for area rest homes and sewn fidget blankets for hospice and Alzheimer’s patients. For the Honor Flight project, they all pitched in by donating fabric, piecing together patterns, working on binding, and quilting all the parts together.
“We were happy to do it,” Hart said.
To learn more about Honor Flight, go to www.honorflightcolumbus.org. The website offers information on volunteer and donation opportunities and how veterans can apply to go on one of the flights.
To learn more about the Turnip Patch quilters club, stop by the Madison County Senior Center, 280 W. High St., London, on Tuesdays between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. or call the center at (740) 852-3001. The center is open Monday through Friday.