By U.S. ArmyJuly 15, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (July 12, 2013) -- Members from families of fallen warriors unveiled, for the first time, a quilted American flag honoring fallen warriors of the Hawaii and the Pacific region at the Fourth of July Spectacular celebration, here, July 4.
The 9-feet by 17-feet quilted flag features pictures of fallen service members with Hawaii and Pacific ties, along with letters and stories written by family members or battle buddies.
The two-month assembling, sewing and quilting of the flag was described as a "labor of love" by Army Survivor Outreach Services' participants and event organizer Elisabeth Olsen, family support officer, Army Community Service, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, and a mother and survivor of a fallen Soldier.
The meaning of the project for the many family members and friends was officially expressed with an accompanying displayed letter that shared the sentiments of the survivors, according to Olsen.
"… It is with heavy hearts but great pride that the families of America's fallen service members have undertaken this flag quilt. No one is truly gone, as long as one person remains who remembers them.
Through this labor of love, we endeavor to share our ohana with the rest of you, and to give you a chance to know our loved ones, their sacrifice, their love for our country, and to give you a chance to remember them alongside us.
It is through this quilt that we share their stories -- not how they died, but how they lived.
On this special day, our nation's birthday, please join us in remembering, not so much the pain of loss, but of the love we shared with our fallen service member, and the love they shared for their country and for all of you."
The commissioned letter was written by SOS member Paul Wessel, father of Spc. Kevin Wessel, who was killed in action April 19, 2004, in Iraq.
Family members, including many children, assisted in the creation and the official unfurling during the Fourth of July Spectacular event.
The Fort Shafter-based Survivor Outreach Services program assists families and friends of the fallen from all service branches.
The quilt is scheduled to be on display in the coming months at a number of locations around Oahu.