HAMMONTON - It was a touching day at the Hammonton Senior Center on Thursday as five veterans were presented with homemade quilts in honor of their service to their country.
The quilts were made and presented by South Jersey Quilts of Valor. The Quilts of Valor Foundation was started in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, who had a son serving overseas. One night, Roberts had a dream about her son being comforted by a quilt and the idea for the foundation was born.
The foundation is an international organization that has made more than 150,000 quilts for veterans. “Vietnam veterans are the most moved and sentimental because they had no welcome when they returned home,” said Liz Barrett, a member of the South Shore Stitchers Quilts of Valor group.
The five veterans who received quilts were Joseph A. Siligato, Charles E. Dalley, Harry Palmer Jr., Frank R. Passalagua and Ann M. Perry.
Perry proudly served 30 years in the Marines starting in 1952.
“I just got out of school and I didn’t want to go to college, so I decided to join the Marines,” said Perry with a laugh and twinkle in her eye. Perry, whose maiden name was Davis, joined despite the protests of her father, who eventually came around and was proud of the fact that his daughter joined the Marines.
Even though women were not allowed to serve in combat in 1952, in the middle of the Korean War, “We still did everything the men did, we crawled in the mud and were out on the firing range,” said Perry.
The veterans also took the time to meet with the Atlantic County Historical Society for the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress. The project is aimed at recording the memories of veterans and preserving them in the Library of Congress so their stories and history are not forgotten.
“This is often the first time they talk about their experiences,” said Susan Slaninka, an interviewer for the Veterans History Project. The people involved in the project are very welcoming but they do not push any veterans to tell their stories.
“Some have said no to being interviewed because they do not want to relive those experiences and we respect that,” said Slaninka.
For more information on the Quilts of Valor Foundation, please visit http://www.qovf.org/. For more information on The Veterans History Project please visit http://www.loc.gov/vets/.