In July of 2004, the Citrus Belt Quilters Inc. of Redlands, CA, decided that they wanted to honor and show respect for military men and women who had died while serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are stitching reproduction Civil War quilts based on one of the few existent Civil War U.S. Sanitary Commission quilts owned by the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, CA. These quilts are then presented to the families of our fallen heroes.
The original quilts were made by Northern women, during the Civil War, as part of a supply drive by the U.S. Sanitary Commission to aid the Northern war cause. The U.S. Sanitary Commission, a volunteer organization charged with overseeing the sanitary conditions in the Union military hospitals, recognized that there was a terrible shortage of bed coverings, bandages, socks, and other clothing articles in the hospitals. They, contributed significantly to alleviating the suffering of soldiers, and was the forerunner of today's American Red Cross.
Northern women, in the four year period of the Civil War made an estimated 250,000 to 400,000 quilts for the cause--all by hand. The original quilts measured approximately 48 by 84 inches, the same size as a hospital cot. Today, only five of these quilts are known to be in existence.
When Citrus Belt Quilters began its drive under the leadership of member, Don Beld, the Inland Empire area of Southern California had 16 losses. They now have over 90 fallen heroes from Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The Home of the Brave Quilt Project, as it was named, has now spread to all fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and has honorary chapters in England, Germany, and Australia.
The Home of the Brave Quilt Project is a grassroots movement. While some donations have been received, each quilt is made with supplies donated by the maker or their quilt guild. Each area or state coordinator sustains their costs out of their own resources. Because it is a genuine grassroots movement, this quilt project has struck a national cord, receiving recognition by many military and political figures as well as noted quilt institutions.
It has been featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles as well as local and national television news programs. Perhaps its greatest honor has been the wonderful letters of gratitude from families who have received the quilts.