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Washington veteran receives Quilt of Valor

Jeff Henningfield, Richard’s son, examines the label on the corner of his father’s quilt. The quilts are specifically made for each veteran to honor them for their service. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)
Jeff Henningfield, Richard’s son, examines the label on the corner of his father’s quilt. The quilts are specifically made for each veteran to honor them for their service. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Navy veteran Richard Henningfield was all smiles on Wednesday as he was presented with a Quilt of Valor in recognition of his service.

Family gathered at the United Presbyterian Home in Washington, where Richard is a resident, to participate in a socially distanced program. The event was a surprise, set up by his son, Jeff Henningfield, who said he got the idea after attending a ceremony previously.

“My wife and I went to a veterans presentation in Muscatine, and they did six presentations at that event. I was thinking, ‘I’ve never heard of Quilts of Valor but yeah we can do this,’” he said.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national nonprofit foundation, which strives to provide handmade quilts to veterans, no matter the veterans years of active duty or branch of service. A local branch of the Quilts of Valor Foundation has been making quilts for veterans since January 2016 and is made up of roughly 10 quilters.

Jane Messer leads the group which is stationed out of Mt. Pleasant. The group makes quilts for any veteran in the area who needs one and has about 25 premade and ready to be finished with a veteran’s name.

Each quilt has a label with the names of the quilt makers and the name of the veteran it honors. When presenting Henningfield with his quilt, she delivered a speech noting the importance of it.

“A Quilt of Valor is priceless,” she said. “It can never be bought, it should never be sold. It is not a birthday gift or a Christmas present. A Quilt of Valor is a healing and comforting gesture, a tangible thing that can be wrapped around themselves and know that someone thinks about them with love and care,” she said.

Jeff Henningfield pointed out that his dad was wearing his honor flight shirt on Wednesday which proved his love for his country. Because of the sacrifices he made, Jeff said having a quilt made for him was just the right thing to do.

“He served his country, why wouldn’t I do it for him?” he said.

Jeff said he has seen his father a few times over the last couple of months, mainly communicating through windows and FaceTime conversations. Getting to be outside and see him experience this was a treasured moment, he said.

“It’s all good. COVID has been tough on people who live in long-term care facilities so anything that mixes up the drudgery of the last four or five months is beneficial to everybody,” he said.

Anyone interested in a Quilt of Valor for a veteran is encouraged to contact Jane Messer at 319-931-0175.