Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tuesday is Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair and there will be tributes throughout the day, but none may help fairgoers see the people behind the military as much as The Lost Heroes Art Quilt.
The quilt, made by Florida artist Julie Feingold, tells a story with a photo of a young child who grew up to be a soldier and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
There is a photo of a fallen military member from every state. All are men and women who died in Iraq or Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.
“They were all little boys and girls at one point,” said Merrilee Carlson from St. Paul, who has been sharing the quilt’s story with as many people as she can.
She is a military mom who understands how difficult it is to have a child serving overseas.
“Your son’s story is in here too,” said Carlson to another military mom at the fair. “We’ll keep him in our prayers.”
Carlson’s son Michael didn’t come home. His photo is on the border of the quilt.
“Each one of these people do tell Michael’s story. Michael was a Boy Scout. Michael was in wrestling. Michael was in music,” she said.
For the Krieg family, the quilt hits home too. They have a family member serving in Iraq.
“Having a small son, it brings tears to your eyes to see that these were people’s children, and husbands, and brothers … so very meaningful,” said a woman from the Krieg family.
“It makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck,” said another fairgoer. “I mean how thankful can you be to people who are willing to do that?”
Carlson said she’s a voice for the families of all of the fallen heroes and for those who are defending our country’s freedom every day.
“This is not just a soldier story, it’s a community story,” she said. “We have thousands of men and women in harm’s way from Minnesota and from our surrounding states and they are all there for us.”
The quilt’s permanent home will be at the Arlington National Cemetery.
A Minnesota company bought the quilt and made the donation to the Cemetery so it will be on display there on Sept. 11.