Veterans honored with quilts


Last updated 7/11/2023 at 10:10am

Photo by Cody Rheault

John Miller, Jason VanMeter, and Gary Frazee where presented with Quilts of Valor in a special moment at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

As the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show drew to a close Saturday, a moving ceremony took place at West Hood Avenue and South Elm Street, when three military veterans were presented with Quilts of Valor. The quilts were made by Salem Star Valor Quilters of Oregon.

Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003 with a dream, literally a dream. Founder Catherine Roberts' son Nat was deployed in Iraq.

According to Catherine, "The dream was as vivid as real life. I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair. I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter.

"Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and well-being. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was: Quilts = Healing."

The model appeared simple. A volunteer team would donate their time and materials to make a quilt. One person would piece the top and the other would quilt it. The organization has made over 300,000 quilts since its founding.

Mary Williams, owner of Will-n-Bee'z Quilts in Salem made the presentation with an assist by Earl Schroeder, an Air Force veteran known around Sisters as The Flag Man. He's a life member of Kiwanis, and an ardent advocate for veterans in Central Oregon.

Williams told the story of Catherine Robert's dream and a quiet fell over the gathering.

The first recipient was Jason Kelly VanMeter, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Marine Corp (1996-2018) who served tours in Okinawa, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Jubuti, Africa. He received the Meritorious Service Medal plus 14 ribbons.

VanMeter is police chief at Black Butte Ranch.

Next up was Sergeant Gary D. Frazee, a Korean War Army veteran (1967-1969). Frazee was Grand Marshal of this year's Sisters Rodeo Parade.

He was followed by retired Air Force Colonel John O. Miller who served from 1965 to 1997 earning the Legion of Merit. Miller is Post Commander of Sisters American Legion.

The ceremony was not solemn, but celebratory. Onlookers applauded and saluted as each was presented with their patriotic-themed quilt which was placed on each of their shoulders.


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