9/11 quilt project to be displayed at Bay

ESCANABA — A national rotating quilt exhibit — Sew We Never Forget: 9/11 Memorial Quilt Project — will be on display in Bay College’s Joseph Heirman University Center from 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, until 7 p.m. May 30. The exhibit features over 300 quilts.

The history behind the exhibit is as involved and impressive as the quilts that will be on display, according to organizers. Immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Amy Sie Leasure-Hedt, an avid quilter, mother, and sheriff dispatcher from Prescott, Ariz., felt the need to create a multi-faceted quilt project to honor those who were killed. Her quilt design provided a way for those who had lost loved ones, or for anyone moved to assist in this project, a means to channel their grief through participation in the making of the quilt.

She created a website specifically for the project which provided the instructions for anyone who was willing to make a simple block, and directions for the quilter to supply additional information so that the victim’s family and the quilter could be notified upon completion of the quilt. Her idea of using the patriotic colors of red, white and blue, and using a star pattern, would also provide unity for the quilt.

Sadly, she lost her battle with undiagnosed cancer in 2002, and the uncompleted quilt project was placed on hold. When another experienced quilter, Brian Kohler, of Seattle, Wash., recognized the significance of the 9/11 Quilt Project and the need to bring it to completion, he persuaded Amy’s husband, Michael Hedt, to allow him to complete the project. Michael personally transported the components of the quilt that had been completed up to that point to Kohler’s home. In Seattle, with the help of many devoted friends, Kohler was able to bring the quilt to completion, and the first showing of the WTC Memorial Quilt was displayed in 2004.

After the initial showing of the quilt, Kohler was unable to dedicate the time and resources necessary to take the memorial quilt on tour to cities across the nation. Unfortunately, it was just stored away until Beverly Kuemin successfully convinced Kohler to relinquish the quilt to her care so that she could continue Amy’s vision of bringing this labor of love and remembrance to the cities of those who assisted in its creation.

Beverly Kuemin is now the keeper of the quilts and President of the 9/11 WTC Memorial Quilt Project. She has already shown this quilt in its entirely to four cities near her home state of Michigan, and it is her great desire to honor Amy’s vision and to take this incredible quilt on tour for those who remember the lost on 9/11/2001. Amy’s original request was for 7,500 squares, but she received over 20,000 squares from more than 30 countries. Her inspiring project produced 300 quilts, each 60 by 60. Once these quilts have been seen in as many states as possible, it was Amy’s wish to find a permanent home in New York where they can be exhibited for all to see.

This is a first for Bay College to host a large-scale quilt exhibit, said Community Events and Marketing Coordinator Emilie Schada. “We are honored to be a featured location for this exhibit that has made its way throughout the country and is now here at Bay College. We encourage the community to visit the exhibit at the college, and reflect on the meaning and symbolism associated with the beautiful quilts that commemorate those who lost their lives on September 11th.

Viewing hours begin from 2 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, and Thursday, May 30. Relying heavily on volunteers from each host community, the Bay Area Quilt Guild was instrumental in making the exhibit possible. For more information, contact Bay College events at (906) 217-4040, visit www.baycollege.edu/events or email events@baycollege.edu.

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