Video: Honoring soldiers stitch by stitch

By Bob Faw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 2/10/2004 1:55:52 PM ET 2004-02-10T18:55:52

It starts small.  A few bits of cloth which Jessica Porter carefully, lovingly turns into quilts for every American soldier killed in Iraq.  “You can hold them, you can cry in them, and they’re just a physical reminder someone cares,” said Jessica.

Already, in a Florida garage awash in splotches brimming with red white and blue, Jessica and her mother have assembled 250 quilts.  “We’ve just taken the time to let them know that they matter and that their loved ones ultimate sacrifice is very precious,” Jessica's mom Joanne said.

Hearing what this 20 year-old student has done other quilters have donated money and materials.  “When you take a quilt and hold it and wrap it in your arms, you feel the love that was put into it,” according to embroiderer Karen Riddile. 

Embroidering the quilts, sewing on names, or pictures of soldiers, for grieving relatives.  Quilter Willa Stiber said, “They are crushed in spirit and they always will be and you can’t erase that, so you give them comfort.”

Sending them to parents, like Vilma and Dominic Baragona - who got the terrible news about their son, 42 year-old Lt. Col. Rocky Baragona in May.  “Here’s these two soldiers standing there - two officers - and before your eyes your worst nightmare comes true,” said Mr. Baragona.

Several months later, a quilt, unsolicited arrives.  “You say, wow.  They did that just for us.  In memory of Rocky,” Dominic Baragona added.

They wrote a note of appreciation to Jessica as have many others:

“The quilt came on a day when we needed extra comfort.  Thank you so much.”

“It brought instant tears to our eyes to think that mere strangers would share in our grief.”

“When I received it I hugged it like I was hugging Greg.  Tears and grief overcame me for a brief while.”

Not that the quilters need any feed-back.  “As long as it takes, we’re just gonna keep working on it, little by little, until we honor all those who have fallen,” Jessica said.

Strangers with just a few bits of cloth - saying thanks - easing pain.

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