By Robyn Sanders
A quilt commemorating soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, will be on display today in the Allbritton Foyer of Moody Library.
At 3 p.m., the quilt will be displayed in a special event, “A Tribute to Fallen Heroes,” on the northwest patio of Moody Memorial Library. Baylor is the quilt’s last stop before heading to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
According to the artist’s website, The Lost Heroes Art Quilt, created by Julie Feingold, depicts one fallen soldier from each of the 50 states, along with other fallen soldiers along the quilt’s border.
Nancy Hecker, a Gold Star Mother who lost her son in the line of duty, books the venues for the quilt’s display and arranges for its transportation.
Hecker’s son, Army Maj. William F. Hecker III, was killed in action in Iraq in January 2006 and represents the state of Missouri on the quilt.
Hecker said the quilt has been a source of healing for her family and other families of soldiers killed in action.
“The quilt’s all about loss and remembrance and honoring those who serve,” Hecker said. “And so it gives us an opportunity to stand tall and proud in support of our heroes, in fact all of our military, to bring awareness about the sacrifices that are being made on behalf of the rest of the country.”
Hecker said the quilt affects people emotionally because it shows the fallen soldiers as children.
“So many people that aren’t connected to the military at all will see a list of the fallen heroes and they’ll think of them as statistics, but when they see the quilt, the artist uses their childhood picture in there, like age eight to 12,” Hecker said.“And when they see the pictures of these young men and women who went to war, you know, made the ultimate sacrifice for us, they see them as a child and it surprises them and kind of grabs on their emotions. It brings a renewed appreciation for those who are willing to volunteer to serve in our military.”
The quilt will be put on permanent display at Arlington National Cemetery’s visitor center following its visit to Baylor. The cemetery will be the quilt’s permanent home so that future generations can honor and remember the fallen, which, Hecker said, is the whole mission of the quilt.
“Many people stand in front of the quilt and wipe away tears and give a hug and say ‘thank you for your son’s service,’ and that means everything,” Hecker said.
Dr. Karla Leeper, chief of staff to President Ken Starr, said the quilt being displayed at Baylor is meaningful because of the university’s close proximity to Fort Hood and because of the connections Baylor has with veterans here in Central Texas.
“Baylor has a very significant representation of veterans among our student population,” Leeper said. “Students who serve have been a big part of Baylor’s history.”
According to a Baylor press release, “A Tribute to Fallen Heroes” will be an event remembering the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have died in the line of duty, and honoring those who still serve.
Baylor’s Air Force and Army ROTC detachments will also be recognized, as well as Baylor’s military veterans. Other special guests will include local elected officials, representatives of local veterans’ organizations and the Veterans Affairs Waco Regional Office. Also present will be Gold Star Mothers, moms who have lost a son or daughter in military service, and Blue Star Mothers, moms who have children who serve, or have served in the military.