fourbroadsinabus

Freedom Beat Across America: In Search of America's Heartbeat

Archive for the category “Patriot Guard”

Dottie’s thoughts about war

(In August of 2011, four American women set out to search for the heartbeat of the country.  Dottie wanted to search for history, from the Civil War to today.  Melissa wanted to meet with the young and old who serve in the military, and speak to their families about what it’s like to be a part of something so big, yet so personal.  Genie wanted to test the difference between the wars of her sons and grandchildren and those of her own generation.  And Skylar, being eleven, wanted to see the America she’d never seen before.)

Again, this is not exactly a guest blog.  This is Dottie finally finding out where she stashed the journal she kept on our trip across the country.  We enjoyed revisiting our trip and thought you might also:

Aug 12, 2011  Clarksville, Tennessee

Arrived about 1 pm.  We will be here two days, three nights.  On Aug 14 we will interview several wives of deployed soldiers about the life of the military wife – those that are left behind to keep the home fires burning, their stress of child-rearing problems, of having to take care of everything and what their men are like when they come home after a mission.

Aug 13, 2011  Clarksville (in the am)

The second day in Clarksville, and Genie and Renee are trying to line up some military wives to interview.  They are finding it is not an easy task.  The CO [commanding officer] is not giving an order to anyone, but there is a strong suggestion that it wouldn’t be a good idea.

Renee being persuasive

What we offered was the option of complete anonymity.  That way we wouldn’t jeopardize their’s or their spouse’s security.  One of the things I find interesting in our quest is that speaking to anyone that is remotely associated with the media is approached with extreme caution.  This is because of the media’s lack of integrity and negative reporting.  I watched a news program the other day after the recent helicopter being shot down [August 6th, Afghanistan] and resulting in the death of thirty people [30 American troops, 8 Afghan soldiers].  In their news coverage, they revealed the families’ home town, their names, and virtually any information that would be needed should someone or an organization want retaliation.

The other side is, I find it hard to accept that what is asked of the men and women who often make the ultimate sacrifice, that their families must also make sacrifices.  They too are asked to deal with the kind of stress often associated with a person going through a divorce, at each deployment.  The spouse who remains at home must step into the role of a single parent.  They take care of the household and everything that goes with it.  Then when the deployed spouse comes home, it is difficult for the “visiting” spouse to pick up where they left off.  In the case of men coming home, the decision-making and discipline of the household is expected to revert back to him, causing conflicts within the family.  The very things we fight for as a nation are split asunder.  Freedom of speech.  The right to pursue a happy life with those we choose to love, and raise a family and preserve the sanctity of home.

It all comes down to family, doesn't it?

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More from Dottie’s Journal

More from Dottie — remembering the adventures of the four broads as they drove across the southern U.S. in the summer of 2011:

August 7th, 2011

We arrived in Boswell, Oklahoma to meet up with Don “Pappy” Papin.  He is State Captain for the Patriot Guard [Riders](OK).  He was a wealth of information.  (unlike the publicity-shunning members in Oklahoma City)

On Monday we met up with three others in the Guard.  They are “Chief”, “Judge”, and “Leatherneck”.  (even here we met with the reluctance of the Patriot Guard Riders to have any light shine on them rather than on the veterans they seek to honor. So I am not giving the real names that Dottie recorded in her journal.   However:

(Three of the four were veterans themselves)  Pappy was an Air Force Airman 1st Class.  “Chief” was a Navy Seaman (of course), and “Leatherneck” was a corporal in the Marines (natch — name’s kinda a giveaway) until he lost a leg and knee in Viet Nam.  Judge was a civilian Patriot (just wanting to do something for the kids coming home).

The Dixie Café in Boswell was host to our breakfast and after explaining that we would not alter what was said, the men agreed to our recorded interview.   Don gave us a DVD with mission footage [that he said] we may use. (in the documentary which is still in production at this time)

August 10th:

Corsicana, Texas

We visited the Pearce Museum at Navarro College campus in Corsicana.  Pearce Civil War Museum is an interactive museum featuring firsthand accounts of the Civil War, through letters, diaries and journals from civilians and soldiers of that time period.

As we drove up to the front of the building, out front was a retired Air Force fighter plane.  The building, red brick with a porticoed front, reminded me of the front of Monticello (Tom Jefferson’s place, which we actually didn’t get to see this trip, so I have to take her word for it!)  [There was also] a bronze statue of an American Indian making an offering to the Great Spirit, a preview of the Western-themed art exhibit waiting inside.

The foyer was a dome with stained glass discs of Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, Isaac Newton and the German responsible for rockets.  (We think she meant Wernher von Braun, but don’t hold us to it.)

The building houses the museum and planetarium.  Behind the receptionist’s desk was a wall of glass bricks with frosted scenes depicting an astronomer and the solar system.

We waited for the museum administrator to see if we could have permission to take pictures or video record inside the museum.  We met with the Director, and she explained that it was bad timing since they were installing a new exhibit.  She explained that there could not be any photography or video recording in the museum and in the art gallery.  We were given free admittance (appreciated deeply!) and fell in with a tour group and went along as a curator gave a very informative tour to us and about five others.

After the tour I spoke with [the director] again, and she agreed to provide us with a DVD with film clips from the Civil War footage they have, some stills, copies of letters and information with full permission for use in our documentary.  (Unfortunately, to date we haven’t received any of it and she has never returned our phone calls or emails.  Dottie thinks perhaps she got a “no” from above.  Personally, I’m thinking ‘outa sight, outa mind’.  It happens.  Too bad – we were very excited by her promises, and would have featured the museum prominently in the documentary.)

Dottie’s thoughts in Oklahoma City

Continuing with Dottie’s rediscovered journal of our Freedom Beat trip across America in search of America’s heartbeat (again, any errors in transcription are mine):

August 5, 2011
Today we hoped to make it to Oklahoma City and meet up with Don “Pappy” Papin, Oklahoma Captain of the Patriot Guard.

waiting . . .

Pappy's colors

He was busy with other members of the Guard, meeting a disabled veteran at the airport. Instead, we met up with Ride Captain Pam Tate. Pam came to our hotel and despite her very busy schedule and her having to get up very early the next day, we went out for a late dinner to get to know one another.
The Patriot Guard is careful who they talk to. Their whole mission is to provide service to veterans in any way that is needed. They shy away from any recognition that takes the focus away from those that serve their country and often make the ultimate sacrifice.

August 6, 2011
This morning (Saturday) we went to the YMCA-sponsored welcome center at Will Rogers Airport. We were greeted by Millie, a kind of house-mom.
The USO usually sponsors the airport Welcome Centers. Will Rogers and the Anchorage, Alaska, airports are both too small for the USO to sponsor, so the YMCA sponsors them both. It is set up as a place where the military men and women can relax in between flights and in some cases, when they first get home and can meet their family.
I was saddened to be told by Millie that thieves had broken in two times during the previous week and stole two flat-screen TV’s, one a 50″, and an Xbox with all the games and controller. There was also an amplifier for the guitars that lined up against the wall. I think to do something like that is the lowest of the low.
While sitting in the Welcome Home Center, I looked around at the people in the two large rooms. Mothers and fathers, girlfriends and wives. The center provides a place to visit with their families during flight layovers, or prior to deployment flights. One young soldier was sound asleep, laying on a couch with a blanket pulled over him. A sleep so serene, one without the worry. He was comfortable knowing he could sleep without worrying he would be killed in his sleep. Another young man stretched out with his head in a young woman’s lap. A young wife waiting for her young man to be deployed. Worried if this would be the last time they would see each other.
I got to meet with Zorro, a two-year-old registered rough collie. Zorro’s assistant and agent is Renee Leach. As a certified therapy dog, Zorro works with autistic children, visits with Alzheimers patients. He has been coming into the Welcome Center for several months to visit with the young men and women that often are missing their own loving companions. Zorro has a whole repertoire of tricks as well as being friendly and spending some quiet time with an aching heart. Renee said it is just one way to let the troops know that they are appreciated, and it is so very little to give when compared to what the troops have given. Renee and Zorro work with HALO, Humans Animal Link Oklahoma.

Another Broad Heard From!

This is not exactly a guest blog.  This is Dottie finally finding out where she stashed the journal she kept on our trip across the country.  We enjoyed revisiting our trip and thought you might also.

Well, hello Dottie! You're lookin' swell, Dottie

(The words are hers.  Any mistakes in transcription are mine)

August 4, 2011
We started out at a Verizon store, replacing my phone that seemed to have vanished. I think the “minutemen” and their quality control were off. [Does that date us? Anybody else remember the “Minutemen” episode of Twilight Zone?] I am willing to bet that it will turn up sometime along the way. [Never did!]

Too many . . . too many

Next we ventured to the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Found out several things. One: after 9/11, it is evident that anything that is related to “National” ownership, i.e. the people, has more constrictions for the sake of security and the privacy of, say family visiting a grave. We hadn’t known that before we could get pictures and film footage, we needed permission. Not knowing this and not seeing any posted restrictions, we proceeded to the gravesites with our cameras and were promptly interrupted by cemetery security. A trip to the Administrator’s office, a bit of explaining and some paperwork, and we were on our way again.

A bit fuzzy. The camera person was weepy.

Next stop, Angel Fire, NM. We wanted to go to the Viet Nam memorial there. The only one in America dedicated solely to Viet Nam, it started as a privately-owned shrine for a lost son. It now belongs to the people of the United States. [Actually, it’s a New Mexico State Park now, but why quibble?] It was a bit of a chore driving-wise to get there, but well worth it. A visit there will bring some tears of remembrance and an education to those grandchildren of the ones that lived it.
Next was Eagle Nest where we visited a quaint restaurant and got to visit a 1920’s brothel. The building was built from stolen railroad ties and even though the beds are gone, some of the original “fixins” are still there, including the original wallpaper. And it is reported to be haunted.
We then pushed on into Raton to spend the night. [After a quick dip into Colorado]  We hope to make it to Oklahoma City tomorrow to meet up with Don Papin, Oklahoma Captain of the Patriot Guard.

http://www.vietnamveteransmemorial.org/about-the-memorial/2/MemorialHistory/

Quilts of Valor

This week I discovered the local chapter of Quilts of Valor. They meet in the back of the Quilter’s Coop in Temecula, California, every Friday of the year, unless something like Temecula’s Rod Run makes it difficult.
Norma Enfield and Beverly Packard were making quilts for years and sending them to Camp Pendleton but they felt a little lost because they really never got any feedback. Norma discovered the organization Quilts of Valor  in 2008, and realized at that time there were very few chapters in California. She decided to concentrate on veterans and their families, and started QOVFTemecula. At first they met at Quilters Coop at the old location . Three years ago they followed the store when they moved to Old Town Front Street, at the corner of Third Street. “We are so relieved to not have to carry our sewing machines upstairs every week!”

A new pattern!

Norma keeps a record of each quilt given away in a scrapbook binder. There are presently around thirty veterans on the waiting list to receive a quilt of their own. Living WWII vets get moved to the head of the line. To get a vet on the waiting list, pick up a form at the Quilters Coop or from any of the lady volunteers and fill it out with full name of the vet, branch of service, last job title/rank, deployment (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or here at home), whether wounded, dates of service, and who to notify when quilt is ready for pick-up. This local chapter requires a photo of the service person in uniform, which goes with the picture of the quilt in the chapter’s scrapbook, but this information is private and will not be shared with others. Some of the info will be put on the label on the back of the quilt.

Anyone is welcome to drop by, and if you can’t or don’t sew, you can iron pieces, sort fabric and help in many other ways. On a side shelf there is a box of squares with a blank white center on which anyone can write a message to the veterans, from a simple “Thank You” to a long tribute. A tribute can name a particular veteran, or be to all service members. You can sign your tribute or leave it as coming from all Americans. These squares are incorporated into a specific finished quilt.
Beverly Packard comes from Fallbrook every Friday. Others drive in from such places as Hemet, Murrieta, Corona and Nuevo.  In 2011, the group made 139 baby, child and teenager quilts, and 151 adult quilts. All the women bring their own sewing machines. Norma takes the fabrics that are donated, sorts them out and assigns projects. They make blocks and see if there are colors missing or needed, and then they go shopping. What a convenience sewing in the back of a nice large quilt shop! The group keeps multiple three-ring binders containing patterns that they’ve developed. They are always looking for more.
Some of the women put together squares (or blocks) in the store on Fridays. Kathleen started as a presser and is now learning to sew. Beverly Packard mostly does bindings on the finished quilts “because I’m fast and the others tend to get stressed out on them”. Some people pick up “star kits” and take them home to work on in their own spare time. Beverly told me she kept making “stars”, figuring she’d piled up enough to keep busy, and then the next Friday she’d come in and find them all gone. She couldn’t figure out where they were disappearing to, until she realized women were coming in during the week and taking “stars” home to work on and bring back finished.

Norma says that their biggest bottleneck is the actual quilting – the sewing of the three layers together, top, batting, and backing. Some of the baby, and children quilts can be done on a regular sewing machine, but the larger adult quilts need a quilting machine, which is quite large and can take up a whole car space in a garage.  “If we could find more machine quilters, we could pass out more quilts!” So not only can they use help with piecing blocks and tops, but desperately need more machine quilters to quilt the three layers together. The group provides everything the quilter needs to quilt the quilt. They provide their own thread and skills to machine-quilt each adult quilt.
Baby, children and teenager quilts are turned over to the project coordinator of Project Linus in San Diego who makes sure that this local chapter’s quilts go to the children of veterans who are staying at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego.
Most of the ladies have their own reasons for participating in this group. Norma says that she is too old to join the military, but she can make them quilts! “There is just tremendous personal rewards in making a Veteran feel like his time in the service really meant something. This is our way of showing them that we care and want to give them some handmade love to wrap themselves up in. Every single thank-you note is kept in the group’s notebooks.”

Reminds me of my grandmother's machine

Philomina has been coming for three months and works on a 1951 Centennial Singer model. She came to the US as a teenager from Portugal and when she graduated from high school, she was all set to become an airline stewardess so she could see the world. The problem was, in those days airlines had strict criteria for their “girls”. For one thing, you had to be 5-foot two inches, and Nina was only 5-foot, one and a half inches! So instead, she joined the US Marines and saw the world that way (after foot-blistering boot camp at Perris Island).
Kathy Turley was an Air Force service member for almost fifteen years. She is a Vietnam era veteran, but women didn’t go to Vietnam when she was in. Like the others, she has stories to tell. For instance: right away she was taught to march in formation, and then right after that, she was expected to attend a class on how to “walk like a lady”! However, her group got called up for duty at the last minute. “So,” she says, “I never did learn how to walk like a lady!”
Teresa Ontiveros is not a veteran, at least not a veteran of formal service. Instead, she walked for two days and three nights to enter the United States from Mexico. She learned English and learned to drive so she could hold down a job. In Mexico, she was a teacher, but when she entered the US, she could only be certified as having a high school education. So she went to the University of California to become a certified teacher. She is now a citizen and visibly proud to be an American. “I’m free,” she said. “I have a wonderful life and I don’t have to be afraid anymore. Making these quilts is my way to give back to the guys who make this country what it is.”
The group gladly accepts donations of good quality cotton fabric, red, white, tan, cream and blues. Any bright, colorful, children’s novelty cotton fabric is also appreciated. All monetary donations are tax deductible as this is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.
So come in to the Quilter’s Coop at 28677 Old Town Front Street on Fridays from ten A.M. until around two in the afternoon. Ask questions, check out their work, help out, donate, pick up a form to put your veteran on the list, or just stop by and say “Hi!”

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