A Quilting Bee’s Unifying Thread Gets Personal

National Tribute Quilt - Close Up / American Folk Art Museum; photo by Karen Griska

The Steel Quilters, of the U.S. Steel Corp., is a group of four selfless women: Kathy S. Crawford,
Amber M. Dalley, Jian X. Li, and Dorothy L. Simback.

As the name implies, they quilt. But in order to make their huge quilt –  8′ high by 30′ wide – they would need help; and help they got, from all over the world.

A total of 3,456 three-inch blocks were received from each of our
50 states; and the countries of Canada, Spain, Australia, and Denmark. In the Steel Quilters final act of tribute, the quilt was completed on July 4, 2002.

But what makes this seemingly routine quilt so powerful?

On a close-up, first glance view, the quilt unveils itself as a mixture of interesting colors and patterns . . . and names. But in order to appreciate its power, you have to step backward. You see, each three-inch square immortalizes the name of an individual who died during the worst act of terrorism on American Soil: September 11, 2011 in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

There are 6 panels in total. The four center panels are dedicated to the victims of the twin towers among the New York City skyline, one end panel is dedicated to the victims of the four airline flights, and the opposite end panel is dedicated to the victims of the Pentagon.

Quilted on a grid system, an accompanying book guides viewers to easily locate the names of those who died on 9/11. The book also contains the names of the quilters, and people who gave their time, effort and materials.

So, let’s take a step backward and appreciate the beauty of this remarkable quilt, the National Tribute Quilt:

National Tribute Quilt / American Folk Art Museum; photo by Karen Griska

 

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