Rabbits, quilts and Wounded Warriors

In these violent times that try men’s souls there are also opportunities that make us feel good.
Now this article is not about food but some mouth-watering delicacy does come to mind. Not long ago I almost passed by a little nondescript building in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas that housed the Low Gap Café. I put on the brakes and had one of the best meals ever with frog legs and shrimp. This story is sort of like that good eating event only better.
As she is the reason for most of my god meals so is my wife the causer for this feel good story. Jeanette is a quilter and has been for more than half a century. She has produced a ton of quilts and enjoyed every minute of it. A year or so ago she decided to make some quilts that would go to our Wounded Warriors. As an old retired soldier I thought it was a super idea and all I had to do was give her encouragement.
So over the course of about a year with some health setbacks, fourteen beautiful quilts were sewn in our home.
Meantime, several other ladies had joined in the effort to quilt fourteen more.
All was almost ready to warm 28 Wounded Warriors. Now, here is where Rabbits come in. Back in 1989, Kevin Burgin was an outstanding distance runner for me with the Atlanta Rabbits track team. Kevin was a key performer in helping bring Atlanta its first state championship. His talent earned him a college track scholarship. 
Later he joined the Army and retired 20 years later with a tour in Iraq to his credit. Kevin then joined the Corps of Engineers at Fort Hood and became involved in a major project to construct a new hospital on the Post. So Kevin became our contact.
He put us in touch with an Army Chaplain who worked closely with the Wounded Warrior Program.
Kevin and the Chaplain set up a delivery time. This spring we drove to Fort Hood with a carload of 28 quilts. Kevin met us at the front gate and guided us to the Warrior facility where we met two Chaplains. They gave us an overview of the program, which involved a thousand soldiers during the height of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now they serve just under 200 men and women. No doubt the Army has done a wonderful job of helping the wounded heal and transition back to duty or return to civilian life.
A class of about 20 soldiers, both male and female, concluded and the Chaplain explained the reason for our visit. Each quilt was packed in a pillowcase and they were placed around the barracks lobby.
Then each soldier was urged to take a quilt and remove it from the case. Now comes a real feel good moment for everyone in the lobby. Somewhat sad faces lit up with smiles, hugs from all around went to my wife.
You could see and feel the gratitude and uplifting as soldiers spread their quilts around the room. Lots of work went in to it and though it benefited only a small number of troops this gift, at the request of several ladies with quilting skills, went a long way.
Good meals are delicious but soon fade to the next mealtime, but gifting from the heart to others with wounded hearts can last a lifetime. No doubt in Kevin’s, my wife’s heart and mine this experience will be lasting.
It felt real good just to see the expression that told of lifted spirits from the ravage of war. We look for more feel good moments such as these. At this writing the ladies are back at creating more quilts and before long the more wounded will have one.

Gordon Pynes coached at Atlanta High School for more than 20 years and ushered in several traditions and championships. Among those accolades (both as head coach and assistant) was 25 consecutive boys’ district championships in track, four state championships, 12 regionals championships in 16 appearances and three-time state runner-up. The cross-country program enjoyed 17 consecutive district championships from 1987-2003 and four more consecutive from 2005-2008, four regional championships in 14 regional appearances and four state appearances.

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