SH Cadets Honor Veterans

SHS JROTC cadets assist in presenting quilts to veterans
By: Todd Martin
In a powerful interface between uniformed high school cadets and retired military service members, Shoemaker High School Junior ROTC students helped present gifts of comfort and healing to local heroes.
Through the Quilts of Valor Foundation, 17 Shoemaker JROTC leadership students assisted in presenting handmade quilts to veterans connected to the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple.
It was the second year for the Shoemaker battalion to take part in the service project a few days before Veterans Day.
In an amphitheater at the Teague Tower at the VA center Thursday, each student read biographical information about 19 local veterans and their military service as foundation volunteers presented the colorful quilts.
In the end, students and volunteers laid hands on the veterans as a show of respect.
Stacy Clady of the Texas Patriotic Piecemakers explained that the organization began in 2003 when a mother of a soldier deployed to Afghanistan dreamed of a soldier in battle surrounded by the “demons of war.”
That mother began a foundation that today awards quilts, which volunteers throughout the country make for specific identified veterans.
“We want to cover our veterans who are touched by war,” Clady said, explaining that the comfort items can go to active duty military service members, as well as retirees or anyone who has signed a contract to make the sacrifice of service.
Each quilt contains a unique tag identifying the recipient, the quilt maker and the date of the award presentation.
“It’s an honor to be recognized with this beautiful quilt,” said Laura Jordan of Temple, who served in the Army from 1992 to 2001. “I was a cadet as a student, too. It can be hard for them to get up and speak in front of people, but they did a great job.”
“I’ve never received anything like this,” said Amelia Roberson of Copperas Cove, retired from the Army after serving from 1994 to 2001. “I feel proud and appreciative that they thought so much of us.”
“This is from the JROTC cadets, our future,” said Victor Wiggins, Jr., an Army veteran who served from 1972 to 1992 and now volunteers with the Vietnam Veterans of America. “I couldn’t ask for anything greater.”
“This was handstitched,” he said. “Someone put the heart of our nation into it and wrapped us up with love.”
“It was wonderful to see veterans get a quilt and it was nice we got to meet them,” said Shoemaker senior Nakai Cruthirds, the battalion command sergeant major.
“We’re in the Army JROTC so it’s important for us to recognize veterans. They are our heroes.”
“As a child of a veteran, this is really nice,” said Shoemaker senior Jose Vazquez, the battalion commander. “A lot of veterans don’t get thanked. They made a great sacrifice taking time away from their family and enduring physical and mental pain for us.”
“We need to give thanks to all the branches of the service,” he said. “They all care for us and protect us.”