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Local quilters honor WWII vets

DeKALB – “It’s a privilege and an honor.”

That’s how Ralph Karau felt about receiving the handmade quilt that was on the table next to him.

Karau was among the 27 veterans residing at the DeKalb County Rehab & Nursing Center who received a quilt from the DeKalb County Quilters’ Guild during a special ceremony Friday morning. Friday was the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Karau was one of four brothers who served in World War II, including one who was killed.

“We want to show we honor and respect everything you do to protect our freedom,” Bobbie Lundberg of the guild told the assembled veterans. “There’s nothing better than freedom.”

Lundberg said about five years ago, her group became involved with the Home of the Brave project, which presents quilts to the families of fallen U.S. soldiers. While the 100 members of the guild made the tops of the quilts, she said Cousins Quilting of Lamoille finished the quilts.

“We got over involved,” she laughed.

Since they had so many more quilts than they needed, the group decided to distribute them to living veterans in area nursing homes. If they have enough, they planned to take the rest to Bethany Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, Pine Acres and Oak Crest.

“We were originally going to do this on Veterans Day,” Lundberg said. “But there was so much going on, so we settled for Pearl Harbor Day.”

JoAnn Russell, who is in charge of the local project, said they met a woman a couple of years ago whose son was killed in battle. Russell said the woman keeps her quilt on the arm of a living room chair, which is what helps her get through the day.

“Hearing that encouraged us to go on,” Russell said.

Assisted by 12 members of honor guards from DeKalb, Sycamore, Waterman and Genoa, each veteran at the center was presented with a quilt, thanked for his service and saluted.

Each quilt, Lundberg said, has the same pattern, but the fabric is different. All are based off the quilts given to soldiers of both sides during the Civil War, who slept in them and often were buried with them.

“This is a real honor for us,” center activities director Kate Vickers said; “Any time we can show our support we are very grateful.”

“It’s a wonderful thing to know,” one veteran, Wilbur Zekoff, said of the honor bestowed upon him.

His brother, Richard, who also lives at the center, agreed, saying it was a nice show of respect for what they went through.

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