Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Why we sew for Aussie Heroes - In honour of ANZAC Day -


Janine suggested that we should ask Aussie Hero Friends to write their memories of ANZAC Day.  What an inspired idea.  I am so glad that she did.  I have to admit that I have sniffled as I read these as they came in and again today as I have collated and proof read them for the post.  I did not realise, and I doubt Janine realised when she suggested it, just how great these messages would be.



Tonight I am sharing the ones that include the reasons why people sew for Aussie Heroes.  Tomorrow night, and every bit as special I will be including all those that are purely heartfelt memories of ANZAC Day.





WHY DO I SEW FOR AUSSIE HEROES

I suppose as I have asked everyone else to write in and explain why they sew for AHQ I should do the same, except that these days I don't get to sew anywhere near as much as I used to.  I am either writing the blog or answering emails or keeping up with the administration.  I run the sewing days which require preparation and, at which, I often can't sew too much as I am coordinating, or just chatting to people who come along to say hello.  Sometimes, like yesterday, I am a guest speaker somewhere.  

But when I have those moments when I think "I just want to sew" they are usually followed by a heartfelt email from someone who has just heard about what we do and who would love a quilt of their own.  Or maybe it will be an email from someone saying thank you for a quilt or a laundry bag. Or an email from a quilter who has just found out about us and writes to thank me for starting AHQ and says they can't wait to get started.  
That is why I keep up with the admin, the emails, the posts, and the organising. 

But why I sew?  For me now, I just cannot imagine sewing for anyone else.  I have been lucky.   I met the very first Warrant Officer and his family on his return to Australia.  He continually told me that he didn't think I understood how much what we do means to the troops.  He is not the only one to say that, I have heard it many times since then.  I don't think it was till I heard it in his voice on the phone the night he returned home from Afghanistan that I started to understand.  Then when I met him and saw it in his eyes and again heard it in his voice.   That is when I knew that what we were doing was so much more worthwhile and meaningful that I could have ever imagined.  

So, why do I sew for Aussie Heroes?  
Because these days I simply cannot imagine sewing for anyone else. 
I have always appreciated our serving members but Aussie Heroes has brought me back into contact with many of those who I consider to be among Australia's finest and I am regularly moved by the humility, courtesy and appreciation for what we do.
What a privilege it is to be able to make something special for some of your country's finest.  That is why I sew for Aussie Heroes - the people, not the organisation. 


and now for everyone else.


Last year for Remembrance Day I wrote only one line as to why I sew for AHQ. I had only been involved for a few months and hadn’t had the opportunity to send very many items away.  I think, maybe, that I was a little naive about the effect our gifts have.  It’s now been nearly a year, and my respect and admiration for our “Aussie Hero’s” has deepened more than I ever expected. The generosity, honesty and thanks for the small gifts we provide is quite overwhelming.  My heart goes out to every solder, sailor and aircrew for the sacrifice they make being away from their family and friends.   To put it simply, any way I can make time away from their loved ones and Australia go that little bit faster, provide warmth and comfort, even make daily chores a little more enjoyable, I am humbled to provide.
I have been deeply touched by all.
Angela.



Why do I sew for Aussie Heroes?
I sew because I can. I have the freedom to indulge in hobbies and crafts, to live where I choose, to read, join groups and express my opinions amongst many other freedoms I enjoy.
I can do all these things because of the men and women who have fought for my freedom and the freedom of other cultures. 

For the ANZAC Day service at Primary School ANZAC Day service I made a wreath from cardboard and chrysanthemums and wore my Brownie Uniform. Together with so many others I listened to the ABC Radio broadcast. At Secondary School I wore my Guide Uniform and attended the local service. At Teachers’ College I sang in the choir for the ANZAC Day broadcast and as a Brownie Leader, together with my Brownies, I attended the local service.

The respect for the sacrifice made by so many, and shown at ANZAC Services wherever Australians and New Zealanders gather, will never be diminished.

I remember the Vietnam War and the treatment experienced by those returning to a society where their service was not valued or respected.

I don't want to see that happen ever again.

I get a thrill out of posting off a parcel to strangers in overseas postings. I want them to know that it is not just their family or friends who think of them and wish for their safety while on duty and their eventual return home.

Jeann Clark



Why do I make Laundry Bags? Very simple I am so proud of each and every one of our Defence Force personnel that if I can provide a small token to bring a smile to their face I feel I have done something worthwhile.   I have a son in the Navy and knew the importance of sending parcels, letters and tricks and treats. When I saw the joy and pride with which he received his quilt and laundry bag, his appreciation that someone he does not know took the time to make and send him a quilt, I figured I could do the same for another ADF member.
Joan


As a child, I learned about ANZAC Day from my parents and school. I found it hard to contemplate so many deaths and casualties and the need for war.
 In my twenties, I visited the cemeteries of France and Belgium and was overwhelmed by the visual impact of all those white crosses -so many of them marked "Known only unto God" -my maternal uncle was one of those soldiers - missing in action.   Those thousands upon thousands of white crosses standing row upon row - like an army - in quiet, calm and pristine green fields left an indelible impression on me -an incongruous comparison of what it had been like for our soldiers fighting and dying amidst the mud and noise of battle so many years before.   Surrounding these immense lawn cemeteries were golden fields with red poppies flowering among the grasses.

On returning to London prior to flying home to Australia, I saw a painting displayed along the wall of Kensington Gardens, just a landscape with small red poppies flowering in a field of gold.  I was struck by its simplicity and poignancy and to this day, I regret not purchasing that painting. [Time was too short to arrange packing and postage home]
I have never forgotten that painting!

 In World War 2, my Dad served in the A.I.F -2/12th Battalion from 1939 -1946.  He returned to Australia [from New Zealand where he was managing a sheep station] and enlisted as soon as war was declared, saw active war service in many areas.  During the war years, he was promoted to RSM and Warrant Officer -Class 1.

Dad was a "Rat of Tobruk"and was Mentioned in Dispatches while there and was also awarded an MBE while serving in New Guinea/ Balikpapan. He was badly injured in New Guinea and came close to losing a leg.   After a few months of hospital/rehab, Dad returned to his unit to continue his war service.

Our family always watched the ANZAC Day marches on TV but Dad did not speak that often about the war years, nor did he ever join the RSL -too many painful memories, loss of mates and destruction of lives.

My parents were not happy that I was contemplating becoming an army nurse in Vietnam when my nursing training was completed. "War is no place for a girl." They were relieved that the Vietnam War was over just as I was graduating as a nurse and midwife.

 I think I would have felt the same way as my parents did then, now that I have three daughters of my own [one of my daughters was thinking of training at ADFA as a pilot.] so I appreciate the sacrifice and deprivations of our young and courageous ones as they endeavour to make our world a safer place.

 I have been associated with A.H.Q for just over 12 months now and am proud to be part of this group of patchworkers.   I make quilts for Aussie Heroes because it is a tiny way of saying thank you and to show my care and respect for all our service personnel.  The quilts are a tangible way of showing our guys and gals that we are thinking of them and are grateful for the great job they do in difficult and often dangerous circumstances -not to mention giving them a little warmth and colour for their rooms.

A few years ago, my husband and I visited the War Cemetery at Adelaide River, just outside Darwin and again I was overwhelmed when reading the stories of death and destruction on our home ground.  I will never forget the haunting call of the beautiful resident peacocks amidst this calm and beautiful setting. It was almost as if those birds knew where they were and this was their rendition of the "Last Post".

 Yesterday, while at ukulele practice, [yes, an old dog can learn new tricks!] we were playing and singing some ANZAC Day songs. Two songs especially  'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and "No Man's Land" by Eric Bogle were the impetus I needed to write a little something for Jan-Maree to put up on the AHQ blog.  While playing, memories of my Dad, the poppy fields in France, the painting and the peacocks' sorrowful song flooded over me.
I guess we learn that we never learn from war!
 We should never forget that because of our soldiers' sacrifices [past and present], we speak English and live in a free and democratic society.
LEST WE FORGET.



Why do I sew for Aussie Heroes?
I sew because my Husband and I  both care about the health and well-being of those serving our country overseas.   We hope to demonstrate that there are people back home who care about the tasks being undertaken and understand the personal difficulties involved in being deployed away from family and loved ones.   I  love the thought of adding a smile to the face of a recipient on mail day.   Apart from that I LOVE to sew and have been married to my own Veteran now for 44 years who supports me doing this, it has enhanced both our lives.  Sewing for Aussie Heroes is a perfect match for me and I hope to continue doing it for as long as there  are requests coming in that I can manage.



I would like to send a message to our personnel serving overseas and not quite sure what to say so sharing my ANZAC Day memories seems a good start.   My father was a police officer so I grew up living in police stations in a number of towns around South Australia.    In some of the larger towns where we lived, my Mum, brothers and sisters and I would line up on the streets to watch ANZAC Day marches.    Dad was usually involved in traffic control so we had that extra motivation to be there.      As with all families in Australia there were men in our extended family who had fought in the World Wars and at Vietnam so the ANZAC Day marches became more significant as we learnt about their involvement.  Not that they wanted to talk about what happened and for some of them snippets of their stories only came out after they died.     When I left home and moved to Adelaide to work I continued to line up on the streets to watch the ANZAC Day march.
Now that I am married to a farmer and live on a farm, I haven’t been to an ANZAC Day parade for well over 20 years but I do watch it on TV.   In the smaller local towns there are more dawn services than marches and the last dawn service I went to was 2 years ago when ANZAC Day fell on Easter Monday.  My husband and I were on holiday in Streaky Bay and we went to the dawn service which was held on the beach.   There would have been at least a 100 people there, including a lot of older men wearing their medals.  It was especially moving to stand in silence to remember those who had fallen and then listen to the Last Post.
So this ANZAC Day I plan to go to a local dawn service and then watch the March on TV.
I guess the reason I sew for AHQ is because of the motto “We care about the people – not the politics or the mission”.    To have the opportunity to sew laundry bags (no quilts from me yet) for our defence personnel in the Middle East seems like we all working together as one team.
Thinking of all our troops overseas, who are away from their loved ones for such a long time, and wishing everyone a safe deployment.
Liz Jaeschke, S.A."



"Why I Sew For AHQ"
To be honest I am not sure that I can actually put into words just why I sew for AHQ.  But the following is my account as to how I started!!  

For years I had been reading in American magazines and on various blogs, about the Quilts of Valor that the American ladies were making for their servicemen and women and I always thought that what they did was so special.  I vaguely wondered if we would ever do something similar in Australia.    Early last year I read in an Australian blog about Jan-Maree's efforts with her Gumnuts Quilt Group to initially send laundry bags, and then quilts too, overseas to a particular group of servicemen.  At that  time the quilting group I belonged to (Turramurra Quilters) was shortly to have an all-day sewing day  on a Saturday.   As we were leaving quilting one Friday night several of us lingered to have a chat and one of our ladies (Judy) mentioned that she was thinking that maybe it was time we made another charity quilt.  I told she and Carol about how I had  recently read in a blog about  Jan-Maree and her group’s efforts for our Aussie Heroes and wondered if we could maybe make a group quilt for her to send.   We agreed that we should ask the other ladies what they thought at our next meeting but Carol and I had already decided that we would do it ourselves even if no-one else felt they were able to.   

The rest is history, Heather H, one of our very talented members offered to show us how to make a quilt as you go quilt using Australiana fabrics which we could complete for an AHQ.   We invited Jan-Maree along to our sewing day to talk to us about AHQ and managed to complete several tops with others (including our 2 Australiana quilt as you go quilts) to be finished at home.    I am not sure how many quilts we ended up making at that time but it was a very respectable number and several of us continued on to make more with Carol  quilting many of them plus she has quilted  dozens more  tops that have been provided to Jan-Maree since then.  

My AHQ contributions were put on hold for some months from the middle of last year as my husband and I were moving from Sydney to the NSW Mid North Coast where we were retiring so that he could fish, and I could sew to our hearts content.   Since our move I have only managed to make a few laundry bags and am currently making another quilt but I am hoping to get a little bit more productive soon.

This of course doesn't tell you WHY I sew for AHQ, I just like to do it as a very, very small way of saying thank you to all of our Aussie Heroes.    Words cannot really express the gratitude I feel for the work they do, or the sacrifices they and their families are making for our country.
Claire




Why Anzac Day is special to me and why I sew for AHQ.
My Pa and Grandpa both served in World War II in New Guinea and Europe.   Some of my Uncles served in Vietnam and my Uncle Paul was education officer on the original HMAS ANZAC. 

My Dad was a" small school" teacher when I was a little girl and we always marched in the local ANZAC Day parade as a school. Even if the day fell within the school holidays there were always a group of us in our green uniforms proudly carrying the Limbri or Alectown school banner.
   
My proudest moment was when I was given the honour of reciting the "Ode to the Fallen" at our town's commemorative service when I was 11 years old.  I was also lucky enough to be chosen to give a speech at my high school when I was in year 10 about the meaning and relevance of ANZAC Day.  It's so important that the efforts of our troops don't go unnoticed, ANZAC Day is a way for us to remember and say thank you. xoxo




Why I quilt for AHQ'S. 
My Pop served in WW2 in the Pacific.  He came back with some long term health issues and all the family suffered with his absences.  Also 2 of my grandfather's brothers served at Gallipoli and in the Somme and only one came home and he died soon after.  We found some letters that were written from France reassuring their Mother - it was very bittersweet knowing their history.  I live in St Clair and drive past The Light Horse Interchange on the way to and from work - the emu feathers and walers and soldiers are always remembered.  The  service members and their families  should not be under appreciated we owe them a great debt.  Thankyou
C.Morrow .



My father always marched on ANZAC Day with his Battalion : the 58/59th which was raised in Northern Suburbs of Melbourne. They served in New Guinea . If you  go to the Canberra War  Memorial you will see a big painting of the taking of Old Vickers Ridge, that was one of their engagements.

The wonderfully poignant photo taken by Damien Parer of a wounded soldier being helped across a river in PNG by one of his mates was taken while he was with the 58/59th; my Dad was to the right of the soldier when the photo was taken.   They had their own Kakoda experience- the  Missim  Track - which went from Moresby to Salamau and Lae .  The Damien Parer photo was taken in the Salamau area.



I  had an uncle who was gassed in WW1 and won the Miltary Medal in France.

So I have always held ANZAC Day as a day of reverence and reflection.  I always knew that the life I enjoyed was bought at great cost by ordinary people like my Dad and his friends doing extraordinary things.

So why do I make Aussie hero quilts: why not?   If I have some skills and time  how could I not?

When you consider how much I have been given and enjoy because "ordinary" men and women , Aussie Heroes one and all,  in the past and now willing serve in the forces to ensure that I have  security, peace and freedom it seems a very small thing to sit at a sewing machine and make things that I hope people will enjoy.

God bless each and Every one of you.


Why AHQ?
As I said in my friend of the week post I wanted to sew for a cause that didn’t require you to be ‘sick’.  (I have nothing against making quilts for sick people, but I wanted to make a quilt to give hope in another way).  It is a great way to demonstrate patriotism to my boys and to let those soldiers know that we care.  It is amazing what my boys (and I) have learnt about our defence forces since starting sewing for AHQ.

I am the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran and until I was about 20, my father would not talk about what he did, saw, or anything about the army.  We commemorated ANZAC Day every year by either attending the march in Brisbane, or watching it on ABC TV but, nothing about Vietnam was ever recognised in our house.  At school we would all wear the little purple ribbons with the ANZAC symbol on them and we would have a wreath laying ceremony, but it was all about the guys from WWI & WWII.

As my Dad neared retirement he reconnected with some other veterans and began his journey of healing (and sharing) with us.  My boys are now very proud Grandsons on a Vietnam Veteran and they march in our local march every year.  (Due to the size of our town and the 'lack' of veterans, the school students are invited to march in school groups).  Last year 2012 was the most amazing ANZAC day for me.  Mum & Dad were here in Roma with us and the boys were able to march with Dad & the veterans.  To say my mother and I were emotional would be an understatement.  I have NEVER been prouder of my family.  



So ANZAC day is a day when our family stop and reflect.  We say THANK YOU to the returned servicemen and women who are in our parade and we pray a passionate prayer for those still serving.  We are so very blessed to live in Australia and we know that without the hard work and dedication of those who served we would not be as lucky as we are today.

Debra Schefe
Roma, Queensland.



On ANZAC Day I think of my father. Growing up in the 1950s in Sydney was definitely growing up in the 'Post War era'.  Everyone had family who had 'been in the war' and it was part of life.  Everyone knew someone who limped on a wooden leg, wore an eye patch or suffered from 'bad nerves'. 

Both my parents and their siblings were in the services, as was the generation before.  My grandmother was a nurse in Australia during the Great War, caring for war wounded and organising groups to roll bandages and knit socks.  Two of her sisters went to France as nurses.  The souvenirs they brought back were displayed in a glass case in my great-grandmother's living room.  They opened a small hospital in Sydney specialising in rehabilitation of war injuries.  My great aunt married one of those patients.  My mother's sister continued the work in WWll, as an Army nurse in Port Moresby.  She met her future husband when he staggered in from the Kokoda track, one arm almost blown away.  Mum was a Sergeant in the Army and spent her war in Qld, supervising on the rifle range or in the office.  War time in Brisbane was parties and picnics to help people relax and that is how Mum met my father.

Dad joined the Navy in 1942. As a sub Lieutenant he served on ships as navigator, saw action at sea and spent time gathering intelligence on an enemy occupied island near Borneo, hiding in the jungle at night and in holes in the sand by day.  It's a shock to think he was only 22 then - so far from home.  Dad's only brother was in North Africa during WWll. Their father had been in the army as a young man.  Dad never spoke about his war service, or the nightmares or the damaged eyes that needed special drops for the rest of his life.

Anzac Day was Dad's day. He disappeared in the early hours to catch a train from our outer Sydney suburb to the city.  He marched every year, until he died at 65.  After the march he went to his club, with some navy friends, two of them had remained in the service.  Dad always regretted leaving the navy.  He got out to get married, but continued in the reserve, RANR.  He went to sea for two weeks, once or twice a year, and gave weekly classes in navigation at Rushcutters Bay.  I loved seeing him in his white uniform.  After retirement age it was the volunteer reserve, RANVR.  Dad's civilian career was in banking.  He was a serious person who understood commitment and respect. He donated blood, as often as they let him, for his whole working life because he'd seen men die from loss of blood.  He was anti-war and anti-violence. He loved animals, children and the sea.  For Dad, ANZAC Day was a tribute to those who were lost, and a show of respect for those who survived.

In 1964 when the Voyager sank, after colliding with HMAS Melbourne - 82 men died. While in grief for them all Dad lost two friends.  I remember asking him where Vietnam was when it began appearing in newspapers. He stopped the newspaper delivery.  He was hoping it would be over quickly, but before long my sister and I were waving goodbye to childhood friends and boyfriends, some who didn't come back and some who came back changed. I attended anti-war demonstrations, marching in the streets of Sydney, and when people abused returned soldiers Dad told me to separate the men from the politics - to remember that my sister's boyfriend and the boy up the street and many others we knew were people like me.  After that the ANZAC Day marches, which had been growing shorter as WWl veterans dropped out, became longer with the addition of Vietnam Vets.

Dad's navy sea chest was my toy box as a child, and we played with a white canvas bag - probably his laundry bag.  When a friend, who's son served in Afghanistan last year, sent me a link to AHQ and I saw they were making laundry bags I knew this was something I could do. I'm glad to part of this group of dedicated ladies who are all about helping our defence force personnel feel closer to home. 
ANZAC Day is for Dad.  I have his service medals mounted with a photo of him in uniform, when he was younger than my children are now. While my husband takes his father to the dawn service and the march I turn on the TV.  In my mind Dad is marching alongside all those other boys and girls who understand commitment.
Janine C, Qld.






Why I sew for AHQ is that it is such a worthwhile cause, it keeps me sane, (pity about the housework not getting done, such a boring task), and with husband ex services but still in the Reserves,  it is a cause close to us.

We will remember them.




 I first came across AHQ on the internet almost 15 months ago and straight away I was drawn to join.  Since that time I have  joined Jan-Maree on many a sewing day and have collaborated with her on lots and lots of different quilts.

I have had the pleasure of hearing from some of the lovely guys and girls that have received a quilt or laundry bag that I have sent, and it warms my heart how much they love them.  I have even had the pleasure of meeting a few in person, and they really do appreciate that we have all taken the time to make them something.  They really can’t say thank you enough and say that we don’t realise how much what we do really means to them.  Someone other than their family is thinking of them.

The messages through the blog from the guys and girls that have received a quilt and laundry bag, and the photo’s of them holding them proudly still brings a tear to my eye.  They have smiles from ear to ear.  Of course it is even more special when you receive a lovely personal message of thanks for a quilt or a laundry bag, but this is just the cherry on the top and we can’t all have the cherry, so reading everyone else’s spurs me on too....

Often on Social Media you see so many negative comments directed towards the Defence Force and I always think “WOW these guys and girls are only doing their jobs, they really don’t need to have all this negativity ”.  By sewing quilts and laundry bags I could show that we really do appreciate what  they do and where they are, and the sacrifices they make travelling and working away from their families for months on end. 

Half the fun is finding some fun fabric that you hope will make someone on the other side of the world smile.  I have been known to surf the net for hours trying to find some crazy fabrics for laundry bags.

I am so proud to be an Aussie Hero Quilt Friend and the be part of the  on-line community that is growing everyday.  I am always thinking of the guys and girls overseas working on OP Slipper in Afghanistan and in all the other countries that they get sent to, and wish I could do more.  I am glad they know through Aussie Hero’s that we are thinking of them and appreciate what they do.

Caroline (Caz) Deputy Nut

Make sure you do not miss out on tomorrow night's post.  
Another special one honouring ANZAC Day.

Till next time................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

4 comments:

  1. You are right Jan-Maree -it is a wonderful post tonight. There is so much emotion in these stories and wonderful memories - definitely need a tissue.

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  2. How wonderful these storis are,I was going to write one for you from Brayden and I,I was naughty and did not..if i had it would have gone like this.
    Beacause We Care.
    We have a wonderful old fellow in our town 92 years old who still has the wrapping from his care packages in the 1st and 2nd wars.
    This inspired me to send Care Packages to our troops.I am the founder of Aberdeen care packages.We are now in our second year ,last year 179 were sent, this year so far 90,all raised by our own people,donations of all kinds.Brayden is 10 years old and my helper,we get more excited everytime we get a batch of names and find that a young lad learning about our troops and helping community has now spread to the whole school waiting in anticipation for promised visits from soldiers on their safe return.My personal joy is so immence I find it hard to put in words, the feelings of joy and pride as every package I do it is as if it was for our son or daughter,a letter of praise,love and hope is placed in every box,giving thanks for the job they are doing.I tell them our town is praying for their safe return to their families.When we get a name that needs extra TLC, we shed a few tears as we put these boxes together.
    I am so grateful to be able to do these care packages,every one not thrown together but placed lovingly and on every box are the words "Because We Care". and it is simply because we do.
    CJ

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  3. Carole that is a beautiful message. I love that you talk about your personal joy - there is nothing like the feeling of caring for others. God bless you.

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  4. Loved reading the blog! Jan-Maree, Angela, Carole: you are simply wonderful! I'm sure my sentiments apply also to the rest of the wider AHQ team out there. Your efforts and attention have provided me with much joy during my time away from home. The love, connection and support I've received from friends and family is vital to help sustain, but to then receive your warmth as well, was like the nation reaching out too. Thank you doesn't seem adequate, but... thank you! L n Hgs, Mr Aus.

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