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The Indiana War Memorial and its adjacent properties (University Park, Veterans Memorial Plaza, and American Legion Mall) will be without power on June 15. Note: The Soldiers and Sailors Monument will be open that day from 10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m

Today, we share Five Questions with… Luonna Lancaster. Luonna is the Volunteer Manager with Kindred Hospice and works with a group of ladies in Shelbyville called the Stitchin’ Sisters. These amazing ladies make magnificent quilts for veterans in hospice care.  The quilts are made with love, personalized with the veteran’s branch of service, and become a treasured remembrance of the veteran’s service. The Indiana War Memorial Museum recently created an exhibit to display a quilt representing each branch of service and tell the story of these wonderful women who honor our veterans through quilting. You won’t want to miss these works of art currently on display at IWM.

When did this program begin and how many quilts have the Stitchin’ Sisters created?

The Stitchin’ Sisters began the project in 2009 and have created somewhere between 475-490 quilts.

How long does it take for the Stitchin’ Sisters to create a quilt?

Between ordering supplies, setting up the equipment, and assembling/sewing/quilting, the process takes several weeks. The ladies work in an assembly-line fashion with each Sister making a section of the quilt. The completed quilt has a decal ironed onto it indicating who made the quilt and where it was made. The Stichin’ Sisters make their quilts at the Shelby Senior Services Center, also known as The Horizon Center in Shelbyville, in an area specifically reserved for them.

Why are the quilts so important to our veterans?

The quilts are lovingly made to show appreciation for the hard work and dedication our service members have given to our country. Some of our veterans, particularly Vietnam veterans, have not receive the appreciation and gratitude that other service members have received. The quilts are a way in which we, as Hoosiers and as Americans, show our appreciation and gratitude for a veteran’s service. According to many of the veterans I have spoken with, a simple thank you from a fellow American is one of the most cherished moments in a veteran’s life.

How does the quilt enable the veteran to share his or her story of service? 

We have many veterans who proudly display their quilt, either on their wall, over the back of their couch, or tucked away in a special place to show family members and friends. Each quilt is personalized with the veteran’s branch of service emblem and branch of service colors. The emblems and colors often spark conversations about the veteran’s service, the intricate details of the emblem, and why the emblem is associated with the branch of service.

These quilts impact the Stitchin’ Sisters, the veteran, and the veteran’s family. Now they will impact visitors of the Indiana War Memorial. What would you like visitors know and remember about the quilts?

These quilts are made by a group of individuals who want to demonstrate their respect, honor, and devotion to those who have served in our Armed Forces. The quilts not only honor each branch of service but also honor the individual service of those who have served to protect our country. Quilts are often displayed in a veteran’s home or during a veteran’s funeral service and are a beautiful way of showing the veteran’s pride for our Armed Services. These timeless treasures are a wonderful way of showing the legacy of a proud service member’s life to all.