Thursday, May 03, 2007
I've cut the pieces for a red, white and blue quilt, and I realized something about it: I'm embarrassed to be making a patriotic quilt.
It started when I got the top for my red and white house quilt together, and had a lot of red and white prints left over. Then I learned about an organization called Quilts of Valor, which provides quilts to physically and psychologically wounded soldiers returning from Iraq. Jan, a member of my guild (and a fellow quilty blogger), has spear-headed collecting "wounded warrior" quilts from members of my quild, so I've seen some lovely red, white and blue quilts through the guild's show and tell. And then, cruising the Artful Quilter blog ring last week, I saw that fellow AQ blogger Debra is collecting quilts for wounded female soldiers. Links led me to this article in the Washington Post, which really moved me.
So, I decided to gather some blue fabrics to add to my red and white scraps and make a donation quilt or two. And as I've been working with this fabric, so many conflicting thoughts have crossed my mind.
I've never supported this war, and I still don't. But from what I can tell, the soldiers who've fought and been injured or killed in Iraq are victims of something bad. Even while they've believed that they were fighting for justice and democracy and other important principles, we've learned how this war resulted from so many lies and has been bungled from the outset, jeopardizing soldiers' lives and innocent people and our country's reputation in the world. And then there's the continuing horror of the poor conditions for injured soldiers in veterans' hospitals, not to mention the way war veterans are underpaid and ignored by the governent once they have returned from war. It's deeply troubling, and very very sad.
So I've been cutting these red, white and blue fabrics, and contemplating what it means to me to be patriotic. I took my fabric to a quilt retreat this week to cut pieces, and I realized when people asked me what I was making how much I felt I had to explain, lest my use of red, white and blue be deemed support for what this administration is perpetrating in the world. Every single time someone asked me, I felt embarrassed.
Wearing or displaying red, white and blue is usually viewed as a sign of patriotism. But right now in this country, the concept of patriotism has been co-opted by the Bush administration. You're patriotic if you agree, and you're unpatriotic if you don't. And isn't that a shameful state of affairs in our democracy?
I'm proud to be a liberal who can't wait to see Bush out of the White House. I love my country, but I detest this president and his policies. I feel for the soldiers who were injured in Iraq, and I'm angry that they were sent there in the first place. I can write letters to my representatives in Congress, and I can speak loudly with my votes.
And I can make quilts to show I care.