This weekend, a Forsyth County man was honored for a lifetime of military service — not with a medal or a certificate, but with a large red, white and blue “Quilt of Valor,” handcrafted by local group, Quilts of Valor Gainesville.
At a surprise presentation held at The Oaks in Cumming on Sunday, Marvin LaRue Jackson was presented his quilt by family, friends and Quilts of Valor members and was thanked for his service to the country.
“It was a surprise to him,” said Betty Heathman founder of Quilts of Valor Gainesville. “His granddaughter nominated him and they kept it secret. He was very excited about it and so was his wife.”
After the presentation, Heathman said that what makes a Quilt of Valor different than any other handcrafted quilt, is the love and spirit that is put into it by their members. She said that for them, each quilt is a “a labor of love” that can do real good for veterans that receive them
“It provides comfort,” She said. “We have given quite a few to veterans with PTSD and it is a comfort to them. Whenever they feel anxious, they wrap up in their quilt and they feel comfort.”
Heathman said that any veteran nationwide is eligible for nomination by contacting the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
Jackson, a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, was nominated for a quilt by his daughter, Tricia Terrell, and his granddaughter, Laura Ladd.
In Jackson’s nomination letter, Terrell stated that they chose to nominate him due to his long military history and service to the country.
“Very proud of my grandfather and his service to his country,” Terrell wrote in the letter. “As a doctor recently said, ‘they don’t make them like him anymore.’”
The letter states that Jackson served in a variety of different military capacities from 1944 to 1971 and taught JROTC for 18 years in the Atlanta School system. In that time Jackson earned 14 decorations, including a Bronze Star with Valor and two Oak Leaf Clusters.
Heathman said that many members of her group have family or friends who are veterans, so the process of making and delivering the quilts is intensely personal to them.
She said that both her late husband and her son are veterans, so when she visited another Quilts of Valor group, she realized it was something she wanted to be a part of.
“I visited another group and thought ‘well that something that I can do.’ So I just got the six ladies together and we started,” Heathman said.
Shortly after, Quilts of Valor Gainesville had its first presentation of quilts to 26 Korean War veterans in Gainesville.
Since their membership has grown, but according to Heathman that doesn’t mean their work has slowed down a pace. She said that to date they have given out almost 650 Quilts of Valor to local veterans.
“We started with six ladies, and we are now up to 19 ladies. So we stay busy,” She said with a chuckle.
Heathman said that the group regularly meets at Central Baptist Church in Gainesville on the second Thursday of each month, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. She welcomed any interested new members to come and join their meetings.
More information about Quilts of Valor and how to nominate a veteran in the community can be found at www.qovf.org.