A quilt of honor for a fallen soldier
By LIZ LANDY Contributing Writer

Marine’s mother receives memorial
CHATHAM – The mother of Lance Cpl. Christopher B. Cosgrove III, a Marine killed in Iraq, accepted a quilt made by Chatham children in his honor Monday, Nov. 13.

Charlene Bowie, Lance Cpl. Cosgrove’s mother, accepted the quilt from the children, led by Chatham sewer Liz Hackett, while a roomful of quilters, parents and onlookers wiped away tears at the Chatham United Methodist Church on Main Street.

Alexie Marqueen, Isabella and Jerry Saluti, and Will and Paul Hackett, all of Chatham, presented the quilt to Bowie.

Her son, Lance Cpl. Cosgrove, a 2001 graduate of Whippany Park High School in Hanover Township, enlisted in the Marines in 2005 after graduating from Monmouth University.

A member of Charlie Company, Second Battalion, 25th Marines, stationed at Picatinny Armory in Parsippany, he was deployed to Iraq in the spring. He and another Marine were killed Oct. 1 by a roadside bomb at a checkpoint in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Lance Cp. Cosgrove had anticipated returning to civilian life soon and had applied to become a police officer in Hanover Township.

Over the summer, Liz Hackett, the grandmother of Will and Paul Hackett, recruited several of her grandchildren’s friends and neighbors to sew squares for a memorial quilt to give to the family of a soldier killed in wartime.

Hackett, known to friends and family as “Omi,” got involved in the “Home of the Brave Quilt Project” a few years ago and has helped make several quilts for the project.

She continues to use a 60-year-old sewing machine, and involves children in the creation of a quilt by teaching them to sew their own quilting squares.

The “Home of the Brave Quilt Project” is a volunteer organization of quilters from around the country who create quilts as gifts for the families of American soldiers fallen in the service of their country.

The organization encourages people to put aside political beliefs in honoring soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Civil War Tradition

The “Home of the Brave” project was born when Donald Beld, a quilter from Redlands, Calif., decided to make reproduction U.S. Sanitary Commission quilts for American servicemen and women.

During the Civil War, the U.S. Sanitary Commission was a volunteer organization formed to raise supplies and funds for Union soldiers.

According to the “Home of the Brave Quilt” Web site, the commission also oversaw the sanitary conditions of military hospitals.

Sanitary Fairs were held during the Civil War to raise funds and solicit supplies for the military.

The Women’s Auxiliary arm of the Sanitary Commission made 250,000 quilts over two and one-half years and donated them to the Union army.

The quilts were carried through battlefields as part of the soldier’s bedrolls, and were used to keep wounded soldiers warm in military hospitals.

Only four of the Sanitary Commission quilts are known to exist. Many Civil War servicemen were buried in their quilts.

The quilt presented to Charlene Bowie consisted of 41 blocks made by 29 children ranging in age from 8 to 13, as well as eight mothers, two grandmothers and one aunt.

Hackett taught each of the new quilters how to assemble a square, starting with pre-cut fabrics. In the center of each square, the quilter put a piece of fabric with a small picture on it; the picture was then surrounded by contrasting pieces of fabric, alternating from dark to light, like a checkerboard.

Each person then ironed his or her fabric creation onto fusible interfacing, and using Hackett’s 60-year-old sewing machine, sewed the seams together.

Each child and adult made his or her own square from start to finish. Most participants took a short sewing lesson from Hackett before sewing their square together, and Hackett noted she was proud to report no injuries and complete sewing success.

The squares were then arranged into a design by a professional quilter and assembled on a bright blue background.

The quilt was presented to Bowie during a meeting of the Garden State Quilters’ Guild, held at the Chatham United Methodist Church.

In addition to the presenters, the children who helped make the quilt and were able to attend the meeting included Matthew Saluti, Kristen Marqueen, Madeline Hamilton, Kiera Rosen, Kelly Mabin, Kristin and Lauren McDermott, Laura Barber and Kate Purshke.

©Recorder Community Newspapers 2006