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By Karen Bassler
Staff Writer 

WW II Veteran Earns 'Quilt of Valor' for Service to His Country

 

Photo provided

James "Bernie" Beemiller, 95, of Everett, was awarded a Quilt of Valor at a private ceremony at Spring House Estates in Everett on July 15, 2020. Beemiller is a veteran of WW II and served with the U.S. Army 277 Port Company as a sergeant from 1943 to 1946.

James "Bernie" Beemiller, 95, of Everett, was awarded a Quilt of Valor at a private ceremony at Spring House Estates in Everett on July 15, 2020.

Beemiller was nominated for the award by his daughter Bonnie Speece.

While attending a program earlier in the year for another recipient, Speece thought it would be nice for her father.

"I went online and filled out the form. He's 95 and I thought it would be nice for him to receive a quilt too," Speece said.

About a week before April 2 of this year, which was Beemiller's 95 birthday, he was notified that he had been chosen to receive a Quilt of Valor.

"I was thrilled," Beemiller said.

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, a regular presentation program could not be held, but a smaller, outside presentation was held instead.

Although Beemiller was not able to choose which quilt he wanted, Speece said that it seemed to her that the older recipients seemed to get the more elaborate quilts.

"The quilt is just stunning," Speece said.

Beemiller is a veteran of World War II and served with the U.S. Army 277 Port Company as a sergeant from 1943 to 1946. His job consisted of making sure that supplies were quickly removed from transport ships so that the ships could get back to sea and out of harm's way.

During his time in the army, Beemiller had been to New Guinea, a few times to the Philippines and to Japan.

Upon returning to Bedford County after the war, Beemiller worked for the Bedford Rural Electric Cooperative for 41 years. He served as the manager for 10 of those years.

Beemiller now resides with his daughter Bonnie at Homewood at Spring House Estates, Everett.

"I'm 95 with a heart condition so I'm being awful careful," Beemiller said of himself and the current pandemic.

When asked if he had any words of advice for the rest of us, Beemiller said, "Take it one day at a time."

The Quilt of Valor

According to the Quilts of Valor website, in 2003, Catherine Roberts, whose son was deployed in Iraq, had a dream. According to Catherine:

The dream was as vivid as real life. I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair. I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter. Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and wellbeing. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was: Quilts = Healing.

Photo provided

The Quilts of Valor have to be quality made, be quilted and not tied. The quilts are to be "awarded" and not just passed out. A Quilt of Valor says unequivocally, "Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor" in serving our nation in combat.

The organization's original mission statement said its purpose was "to cover all those service members and veterans wounded physically or psychologically with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor."

Roberts also had definite ideas about standards of excellence for Quilts of Valor. The quilts had to be quality made and had to be quilted and not tied. The quilts would also be "awarded" and not just passed out. A Quilt of Valor would say unequivocally, "Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor" in serving our nation in combat.

The first Quilt of Valor was awarded in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq. From Catherine Robert's home in Delaware, the Quilts of Valor movement spread across the nation and beyond through word-of-mouth and the internet.

As of this writing, 252,370 Quilts of Valor have been awarded.

For more information about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, how to volunteer, nominate a veteran or to make a donation visit the website at qovf.org.

 

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