Thanks to Mary who sent this in :)
Today’s edition of The Washington Post contains a very moving article on all of the tributes that have been sent to the Pentagon in the aftermath of September 11. Near the very end is a mention of the handprint quilt sent by the Rosquilters, and the Post staff writer carried over the message of hands that heal into the overall theme of the story.
Bravo, Roswell fans!!!
The article is attached.
You can link to it online here: Mementos Strengthen A Stricken Headquarters (washingtonpost.com)
If the link doesn’t work, here’s the URL:
Roswell Fan (but not quilter!)
Mementos Strengthen A Stricken Headquarters
Pentagon Workers Comforted by Tokens of Support
By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2002; Page B01
These are the things they sent: angels, quilts, poems, pins, candles, teddy bears and a map of Afghanistan.
Also: boxes, banners, posters, cards, money; recordings of songs and church sermons; a Native American dreamcatcher; a mobile that gave flight to a thousand paper birds.
All of it poured into the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Items came from Panama and from Punxsutawney, Pa., from Goose Creek, S.C., and from Scandinavia. They trickled in at first, starting soon after the attack, then became a flood, as people who had never even been to Washington felt the need to communicate their sorrow and support to those they had never met.
People such as Rebecca Joseph, grade 5, room 215, at the Penrose Elementary School in Philadelphia. From pink and orange construction-paper polygons, Rebecca built a person with outstretched arms, fringed black eyebrows and a flat-lined mouth to speak these words:
“To the workers of the Pentagon. I am so sad that you lost your friends and families. I will pray for you. It was a tragedy. We love you even though we do not know you. . . . Here is a hug.”
Hers is just one of the thousands of pieces of artwork and memorabilia that have brightened offices and splashed color onto Pentagon hallway walls. For military and civilian personnel more accustomed to cold congressional and public oversight than affection, the tokens of sympathy and respect have been especially moving.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing that the folks are expressing their feelings and emotions with their banners and posters,” said Lenora Redding, a Temple Hills resident who has worked in the Pentagon for more than 25 years.
Around her neck she wears her ID badge and a tiny gold angel, among the dozens of angels of all sorts mailed to the building — angels made from balusters, angels made from pine cones, angels made from red, white and blue bunting.
“It’s not commercial,” she said. “It means they took a lot of time and labor to put that together, and that means a lot.”
With a note of regret, Pentagon workers are beginning to take down the mementos and catalogue them for storage, possibly in the National Archives, said June Forte, an official in the Defense Department’s Directorate for Public Inquiry and Analysis, which is rounding up the items. Some might stay as decoration in areas that took the brunt of the hijacked jumbo jet. The Naval Historical Center at the Navy Yard has been appointed to lead the curatorial effort, Forte said.
There also has been talk of photographing everything and producing a CD-ROM, or perhaps even a coffee table book. Meanwhile, Forte’s office has been mailing official thank-you notes.
Piece by piece, the mementos make up a mosaic of the American spirit: its ingenuity, grit, compassion and resolve. Some of the work shows remarkable craftsmanship, and some is kitsch. Many pieces are poignant in their simplicity.
One of the first of 2,000 parcels to arrive contained a banner from students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., scene of the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Jotted down in a rainbow of colors are sentiments fromdozens of students who live with the reminders of the April 1999 tragedy almost every day.
“You’re in our thoughts & prayers! Know that through the tears we get a better vision of the future. God is with you. Gina. Class of 2002.”
Wrote Brian Fuselier: “Keep on truckin.”
The Columbine banner has had special meaning for Vickie Bailey, an Army staff sergeant from Lake Charles, La., who has come to know many of the pieces while walking the halls.
“Especially when I’m working late, I’ll stop and pause and read what they wrote,” she said of the Columbine banner and the other artwork. “It meant a lot. It means a lot every day.”
The smallest gifts are no bigger than a boutonniere. The largest include a huge greeting card — addressed “Dear Soldier” and assembled from two sheets of plywood joined with hinges. Inside is a neatly lettered poem that runs, syllable by syllable, for eight feet. A woman just showed up with the card on the back of a truck days after the attack.
Like hers, some gifts came anonymously. More than a few donors offered advice. Some offered their lives. A 76-year-old war veteran offered to serve in place of a young soldier in Afghanistan, Forte said.
In the Marine Corps’ budgeting office, a homemade flag covers a wall inside a conference room. The flag, made from a king-size bedsheet with handprints dipped in paint, came from a group of senior citizens at EdenGardens, an assisted-living community, in Gainesville, Fla. They made the flag initially for themselves as a patriotic gesture after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Our community is full of veterans and people who lived in every war,” activities director Erin Sanetz said yesterday in a phone interview. “So we wanted a flag. We wanted a big flag.”
With flags sold out everywhere, the group fashioned its own, arranging handprints to make stars and bars. EdenGardens’ cat, McCavity, added its own small asterisk to the blue field, and then there was a flag-raising ceremony.
“Once they saw the flag go up, they were crying,” Sanetz said. “They were smiling. They were very emotional — again, because a lot of them fought for this country’s freedom.”
But then a donated flag arrived at EdenGardens, so the residents decided to give away their homemade one. They thought of the Pentagon because its calamity seemed to have been overshadowed by the enormity of New York’s loss.
More hands arrived on a quilt from Rosquilters, a sewing circle made up of fans of the TV show “Roswell.” Drawing on the show’s theme of aliens with otherworldly powers, each patch of the quilt depicts a handprint with the ability to heal by touch — something many workers say they have felt from all of the artwork.
“This means a lot to me. . . . I’ve gone through all the hallways,” said Sedi Graham, a civilian Army employee who lives in Alexandria. “It should be kept. It’s history.”
© 2002 The Washington Post Company