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Monday, October 20, 2014

Camp LeJeune's Beirut Memorial & More.

I had the privilege of riding last Saturday with the Proud Few Motorcycle Club as a guest. Quite the honor I might add. We met up here in Virginia Beach and headed south with our final destination being the Beirut Memorial, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC. First stop was to meet up with the main body at the residence of one of the Proud Few members. We then assembled and rode to the Memorial. There was quite a contrast between the rumble of steel as we rode to the site and the solemn silence once on site and in the presence of not only the Beirut Memorial but also the Vietnam Memorial...being one of the only Vietnam Veterans its draw was as magnetic as was the purpose of the ride.

It doesn't take very long for the inscription that pays the silent tribute to those fallen at the hands of ignorance and cowardice consumes everything that we stand and defend at all costs envelopes your whole being, your whole existence. It taps into the raw and deeply buried feelings that we sometimes have to draw upon to stand the line of defense and not confuse it with vengeance and revenge. The line that separates the cowards that committed this brutal attack against those who were serving in peace to protect our citizens as they served upon foreign soil at our Embassy. 

There were 241 casualties as a result of the barracks bombing, 220 were Marines and the majority of them were stationed at Camp Lejeune with Battalion 1/8.

There were several monuments on site as well...some in reference to this Memorial and like the one below honoring those that may not stand in harm's way but have paid a sacrifice that goes beyond and what only they can relate. It is not only those that stand in harm's way that have been touched by war. Not even those of us that have stood on foreign soils defending what our country has chosen to take a stand on can relate.

As mentioned there was also a Vietnam Memorial...and one of the most impressive outside of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our Nations Capital. But it did afford me the opportunity to visit a few friends and again share with them my gratitude for briefly being part of my life through a bond that will never be broken. 

Gaylen Ray Gallion...

George "Spike" Allen Guy (picture had too much glare) and Gordon Lee Page...

Sadly not the only names that I know that are etched in the Monuments and Memorials that pay a tribute to the loss of those that stood to defend their land and beliefs. I served with Galyen, I grew up with Spike and that which is shared with Air Force Col. Gordon Page is one of those things that is really hard to explain. He was shot down over North Vietnam and listed as MIA (Missing in Action) on the day I arrived in Vietnam in 1966. In the early 70's his remains would be identified and status changed to KIA (Killed in Action) His wife and one of her son's would move to the town Elaine and I lived in until I was hired by the California Highway Patrol in the late 70's. I have worn and still do on occasion his bracelet. The bracelet was given to me by another Vietnam Veteran. Back then you couldn't specify the individual who would be on the bracelet, you ordered, they sent one. My  friend Bill had ordered two, one for himself and one for me. This was one of the two that he received. You have no idea the energy that was drained from my soul when I saw the date listed as the Action Date for the event that led to his death.  I was given the bracelet in 1982 and can still, to this day remember the emotion that cast a cold, musty shadow over my being when it was handed to me. And the courage and pride in rendered that same soul knowing we shared values and commitments that only a few share. For we are a few regardless of the service branch. 

The Memorial, as stated, was quite impressive. The glass panels, etched with the names of those fallen surrounded a the fountain enhanced shrine that honored them. It was all announced by the Monument Wall with the service medallions attached sitting before the flags of each branch. 

I guess the hardest part of the day was riding past the huge banner announcing a local Quilt Show. I didn't have the opportunity to stop. I couldn't figure out how to persuade 35 other Marines, on a mission to the Memorial as the 30th Anniversary of the Beirut Bombing approaches, bearing names like Rage, Mule, Big Whiskey, Goose and One Shot to take a detour to the display of quilts and quilt wares. I'm not sure they are going to pay much attention to one who carries "Lessie Poo" as a road name very seriously. It's another story. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Membership vs. Volunteer

Below is a chart that provides a visual aid that may assist in understanding the benefits of membership that the QOVF is adopting for those that choose to continue under the new program. It is a comparison chart that shows what will still be available for those that continue as volunteers after January 1, 2015. 

Comparison of Benefits to QOVF Members and “Non-member” Volunteers

Benefits for QOVF Fee-paying Members (starting 1 January 2015)  Listed in Appendices of QOVF Policies and Procedures Manual

Loss of Original Benefits for Those Who Choose to Continue as QOVF  Non-member Volunteers
2015 commemorative pin no charge for mailing.

REMAINS available to volunteers for $5
Membership card with personal member number

A CD containing the Quilts of Valor Policies and Procedures Manual as well as templates for forms, marketing materials, fundraising ideas, certificates for awards and appreciation, QOV label patterns, etc., one per group mailed at no charge

NO LONGER AVAILABLE to volunteers.
Access to “members only” area of website (PIN access) offering various and ongoing special benefits such as patterns, vendor discounts, and other members-only opportunities.

NOT AVAILABLE  to volunteers
Discounted participation in Foundation special events such as training meetings, conferences, and QOVF sponsored quilt shows.
 If space is available volunteers may attend and will pay more.  
QOVF marketing material such as color brochures, posters, and other printed material (shipping charges only).

MAY REMAIN available to volunteers.
However, volunteers can’t raise funds or use the QOV registered trademarks.

QOVF’s monthly online newsletter, QOVF Threads, via email

REMAINS available to volunteers

Website listing of registered groups and quilt shops with group leader contact information so potential new members can find and join their group. 

NO LONGER AVAILABLE to volunteers. ONLY member groups and individual members will be listed.
Access to special programs within the quilting industry for discounts on supplies for making Quilts of Valor.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE  to volunteers
Access to official QOVF items for fundraising used at quilting events.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE  to volunteers
Access to the QOVF network of volunteer longarmers.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE to volunteers.
Access to QOVF-produced video and other supporting digital items, as produced.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE  to volunteers unless available publically (e.g., via You-Tube)
Liability insurance coverage when representing the Foundation at public events.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE  to volunteers
State filing of fundraising registration. (The Foundation maintains registration in all states that require registration.)

NO LONGER AVAILABLE to volunteers. Only member groups can fundraise.
IRS reporting and maintenance of fundraising accounts for Official Groups.
NOT APPLICABLE to volunteers. Accounting for monies raised for QOVF is a requirement of the IRS. Membership is not a requirement for an organization to be a non-profit or to be a volunteer in a nonprofit.

Permission to publicly represent Quilts of Valor Foundation (such as at display booths at public events) and to use the Quilts of Valor® Foundation trademarked names and logo in accordance with guidelines in the Quilts of Valor® Foundation Policies and Procedures Manual.
NO LONGER AVAILABLE to volunteers.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We are Not Forgotten QOV

Not Forgotten QOV is a volunteer registered group with the Quilts of Valor® Foundation. We will be sharing our efforts and events that support the Mission of QOV® here on this blog as well as Facebook under We Quilt and the public group Not Forgotten QOV. It is paramount that everyone understands that nothing is more important than the Mission and those that have or will receive the lifetime award of a Quilt of Valor®. We realize there are differences of opinion in regards as to how that is achieved. We will respect and honor those differences but at the same time will make our opinions and ideas public knowledge. We are adamant that there is nothing more important to continuing that Mission than the QOV Volunteer. It is the volunteer that has accomplished over the last 10 plus years what is so vibrantly celebrated by the Foundation. Over 106,000 Awards of Quilts of Valor®. We will do everything within our physical and financial capabilities to continue that quest. Les and Elaine Page, Quilts of Valor Volunteers.


An altruistic activity intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life for others.

The principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community rather than for any financial gain or reward.

The practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one’s community.


The state of being a person who belongs to a social group or an entity such as a company, organization, or nation, and implies a status.

Volunteerism and membership are different.

First and foremost…Not Forgotten QOV is a volunteer group; however we will be joining as a Member Group and paying the $40 fee required as a two person group. We do this to be able to maintain the ability to raise funds and accept donations like we have in the past so that we can continue on the Mission “…to cover service members and veterans touched by war…”

The difference is we did so voluntarily in the past and beginning January 1, 2015 must do so under mandate or lose that capability. We must surrender even more of our monies now because there is nothing more important than the Mission and no one individual more important than the recipients yet to be awarded. Let me assure you I will never claim to be a “member” of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. I came in as a volunteer and will leave, if I ever choose to, as a volunteer. The fee for membership will be submitted under protest for as long as I choose to continue to volunteer my time and monies to the Mission.  

Let me make the following perfectly clear. Whether one agrees or disagrees, the following are my feelings and opinions regarding the current direction that has been chosen by the leadership of the Quilts of Valor Foundation and no one else’s. For those who want to define them as being negative, let them do so for that is a very common perspective taken against those who have a different opinion. But that is all this is…a different opinion.

I do not believe that membership should be the direction that QOVF takes to seek accountability of individuals and groups that sew and quilt under the QOVF banner. I most certainly don’t agree that it should be the first choice on the menu to achieve accountability. I have listened to the following rhetoric on several occasions.
“Listen to those of us who have been around awhile. We tried other things, nothing has worked.”

Well you haven’t tried anything with this leadership group and the self-described stronger infrastructure. Leadership is different and now supported by an Executive Staff. What didn’t work under one leader may work under a new leader that has a hand-picked support staff.

But, we’ll never know. The current leaders have gone straight to the pockets of those that have spent their time and monies to get QOVF to and through 2014.

This organization was built by volunteers and has progressed to beyond 106,000 Quilts of Valor awarded over the last 10 plus years. It did so on the willing backs of individuals that asked for nothing in return giving of themselves and their money freely, passionately and with a true emotion of caring and heart-felt thanks to the 1% of our population that takes the oath to defend and protect. What they did, are doing and will continue to do is not something that comes from paying a membership fee. The fee they have been paying for however long they have been associated with QOVF, came from the heart. They have paid dearly with love, time, and personal finances from the most inter reaches of their souls to give someone a moment of gratitude, comfort and an opportunity to know there are many who care and are ever so thankful.

What was returned to the volunteer for their effort doesn’t have a price tag. It can’t be quantified with a membership card or a pin. It’s not tied to a special price on fabric, a discount to a seminar, a listing on a web page or a PIN so they can have access to an exclusive area on web site. What is gotten in return doesn’t come with a membership number. It just can’t be labeled that easily.

What is returned doesn’t come with a membership fee. It comes with a smile. A whisper “No one has ever thanked me.” A tear slowly falling from the eyes of a hero. The warmth of a hug. The gentle hand on a shoulder. A flush of embarrassment and pride. A salute so unexpected it touches souls. It comes with a proud family watching on or in a gathering of family and friends. It comes in public halls and in the privacy of homes. It comes with joy, with grief, with sorrow and sadness of difficult times and the loss of those that shared some of our time here.

It comes with a truth and honesty that can’t be paid for with any amount of money. What is returned comes from the heart and soul. It can’t be bought and most certainly should not require a membership fee to be enjoyed.

As of January 1, 2015 QOVF will go to a membership model. If you choose to continue to sew and quilt for the Quilts of Valor and receive the benefits of doing so, like using a QOV Longarmer, you will have to pay a fee to become a member. Oh, you can continue to sew and award Quilts of Valor as a volunteer, but don’t expect anything from QOVF. Just for clarification. I never did.

Sadly this is the path the current leadership of the Quilts of Valor Foundation has chosen. Membership is not a requirement to be a Non Profit, it has absolutely nothing to do with any IRS requirement. Not one benefit that has ever been received by the Foundation, whether passed on to the quilter or not, has ever been associated with membership. Whether it was the Pellon offer for QOVF longarmers or the contributions made by those like Northcott Fabrics, Fons & Porter, or the Quilters’ Travel Companion membership was never a requirement or demand.

There are huge Non Profits that receive very large corporate donations; it’s a long list, none of which have membership.

I’ve been hearing that membership is needed to help us establish accountability. I’m afraid I have to disagree with that. What is needed to establish accountability is an effort by a group of people, under strong leadership to develop a system of registering and reporting that is effective. Attaching a fee to it doesn’t make it effective. Taking the few benefits from those that have for years been a part of something great and making those same few benefits now exclusive to members only is certainly not the “thank you” I would be handing down to those that got us here.

Membership…not the first thing I would have tried as we move into our second decade. Wouldn’t even have been on the list. But hey that’s just me, a Quilts of Valor Volunteer Longarmer.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Iron and Steel Run...

To explain the emotion, joy, sadness, reflection, camaraderie, friendship, pride, sense of honor, duty and sacrifice that is made in the name of freedom, concern for others, duty, commitment, integrity and selfishness would take an Ernest Hemingway or a Robert Frost of which I am not.

What I am is a motor rider, a Marine, served a career in public service in two fields, fire service and law enforcement. So when I found out about FDNY-Marine Corps Association's Iron and Steel NY to Quantico Run it was a given that I would make the southern leg from Maryland House Service Center north of Baltimore to Quantico. It was to be the last two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center to be escorted to a museum and erected as a monument.

In this case the monument was to be in Memorial Park at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA.

The following link was taken by a motorist David Wyttenbach who had stopped along our route about 10 miles north of Quantico/Triangle as we passed. It captures the escort from the first vehicle to the last and is about 6 minutes long. It is a Facebook post. You may have to copy and paste.

At the end he takes a shot of the overpass. On the overpass you will see those who have stopped to watch as the escort and steel passed. You will also note a Fire Truck and Fireman. It was a 108 mile ride from Maryland House Service Area to Quantico. This occurred on EVERY overpass. Along the sides of roads, near on ramps and side streets the whole route. Waving flags, banners and the hands of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters that stand behind those that stand for us in harms way. 

In this case the monument was constructed to honor and remember 17 of the 343 Fire Service personnel that were lost on September 11, 2001. As well as being members of the New York City Fire Department they were Marines. All serving and surviving either Vietnam, Beirut, Desert Shield, Desert Storm or Enduring Freedom Marine Corps assignments. They tragically made the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of cowards rushing into the chaos to help and protect others. They will never be forgotten and this monument has been erected in tribute to them for their unselfish loyalty to their fellow man and to provide future generations with the knowledge of their bravery and unwavering commitment to an oath of duty.  

I could not have been in better company with those that rode and stood this Saturday and Sunday in October, 13 years later. The idea that began at a meeting of the FDNY-Marine Corps Association in 2006 came to fruition with a resounding Mission Accomplished. These were the last two pieces to be escorted. There were several other runs and the logistics for them all must have taken countless hours. 
If you would like to read up on the runs you can do so at: Again copy and paste.

I have been cherished with many good memories. The day I met my future wife, the birth of my son, my grandchildren. I have been blessed with family and friends over the years that puts smiles on my face and in my heart. To be part of this event, to be able to pay a small tribute to these men, these brothers, these patriots becomes one of those memories. For on these days we did not share in the sadness of our loss but the joy of the gains these men brought to the lives of those they left behind. We all benefited because for their moments in time they gave all they had to give without asking for anything in return. 

Never Forget

 A couple of motors showed up. Side note...the motors coming from NY did so in heavy, heavy downpours. We were a lot luckier. It stopped raining at 0645. We left at 0730. 

When the flag is this big it's always handy to have a couple of Ladder Trucks around. 

This is the Sunday Procession coming in for Dedication Ceremonies.

I mean really. When was the last time a fire department had a ceremony without an antique fire truck?

A new day, a new ride and a whole lot dryer. 

The Dedication

Did I mention 'tissue alert?' There wasn't a dry eye in the house. The surviving family members were present and seated in the front. Emotions ran just a little high. 

Sermper Fi.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It's the Mission cover service members and veterans... You know the rest. These two awards were recently made in Florida at the 100 year birthday celebration of the presenters Grandfather. The Granddaughter, Erin W. also presented to her Father as well. I just finished the mailing label to get the QOV she will present to her brother at a celebration at Thanksgiving to UPS tomorrow. To say Erin has been busy getting all of this arranged via emails with Elaine, UPS deliveries and flights to Florida from Virginia,  not to mention the planning stages to award her brother a QOV once he get's home, would be saying the least. She has done a fabulous job.

Dad on the left and Gramps on the right.

Here is Gramps with three of his five Great Grandchildren. 

With all of our hearts we thank them both for their service to our country. 

Now here's the best part. This was part of Erin's last email.

"One more thing, my grandfather would love your address to send you a thank you card. Isn't he the sweetest? :-)
He actually got "kicked out" of hospice yesterday because he is doing so well they couldn't justify keeping him there. It was great news for us!!" was great news for us as well. 

We are "Not Forgotten QOV"
Quilt till you wilt...we do.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stepping Down

As of yesterday our commitment to the Quilts of Valor will no longer include Elaine's position as State Coordinator for Virginia nor mine as the Coordinator of Volunteer Training. Following is the email we posted to QOVF and necessary administrators. Rest assured we are not leaving QOVF. As explained we have some personal issues to deal with and found ourselves in conflict with a direction that the current QOVF Executive Staff is taking that we cannot support. As it has been in the past it will be in the future that our efforts will be to assist QOVF in it's Mission and remember that foremost our commitment is to the recipients of Quilts of Valor. Over the next several months I will explain more fully the reasons that guided us to this decision. Thank you all who have aided and supported us both. For information on Elaine's sewing group, Not Forgotten QOV, regarding meeting times and place she can be reached at and I can be reached at or through this blog. Later...Les...

Catherine, Susan and all...
It is with the heaviest of hearts that we submit this open letter to relinquish our positions with the Quilts of Valor Foundation. It has been one of the hardest decisions we have had to make in our married lives. Believe us when we say there have been many hard decisions.
Medical and financial issues are the motivating factors to relinquish both the State Coordinators position for The Commonwealth of Virginia filled by Elaine and the Coordinator of Volunteer Training that Les has filled for the last several months. It most certainly has been our honor and privilege.  We are doing so now so that both positions can be offered to those more in tune with the direction QOVF is going beyond January 2015.
It would be wrong of us not to stipulate that the avenue being taken, membership, is also a factor. With that said and as Les has stated in the past we cannot render the support as an SC or ES member to this program and feel it is not fair to the Foundation to continue. We have both searched our souls for the ability to see this as a positive direction for QOVF…we have come up blank.
We most certainly will continue serving as volunteers for the Quilts of Valor and as mandatedwe will join as a group prior to January 2015 to receive any benefits that may fall upon ‘members.’  If we lost the ability to raise funds and accept donations we could not continue to volunteer.
At this stage in our lives the Mission of QOVF is of the highest priority. We will continue, to the best of our abilities, to assist in accomplishing that mission. For us both to be able to give thanks and a warm welcome home to active service members and veterans is in itself comforting and healing. To Catherine Roberts our gratitude will be never ending. For us both our lives have been enriched by being part of and getting to know many others that share in this mission.
Les currently has no assignments and Elaine can accept requests through September 30, 2014. We will both make sure that all requests currently in queue will be honored and awarded.
Les and Elaine Page

Quilt till you wilt...we do.