CraftSanity Episode 59
The Mother's Day Project:
How One Woman Got Us All Stitching For Peace
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This episode of CraftSanity is about what one woman did to get people across the globe stitching for peace.

Frustrated by the growing list of soldiers dying in the war in Iraq, Anne Landre, 52, of Milwaukee, Wis., decided to pay tribute to growing list of female causalities by stitching each woman's name into a fiber art project.

As the list of fallen soldiers grew, Anne launched the Mother's Day Project and enlisted the help of volunteers, each stitching a single name on a swatch to be returned to her. Anne's plan is to take the names and incorporate them into a traveling tote bag that the stitchers will each get a chance to use as they go about their lives for a week or so. The response was so overwhelming that Anne got enough volunteers to make two tote bags. I got in on the second bag.

Marilyn Gabbard is the name I stitched, and now I feel connected to this woman I'll never meet. Almost immediately after opening my letter from Anne, I did the research to find out who she was and when and how she died. I did the research even though I knew it would mean that I was about to get emotionally more caught up in the war (I have no close personal ties to those serving.)

I learned that Marilyn, of Polk City, Iowa, was the first woman promoted to the rank of command Sgt. Major in the Iowa Army National Guard. She had been in Iraq about a month when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was traveling in crashed Jan. 20 northeast of Baghdad, killing a dozen soldiers. Marilyn was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother and friend. She was 46.

After speaking with Marilyn's family, I would learn more about her life, making it impossible for me to mail my finished swatch back to Anne and forget. This war feels more personal now. The simple act of tracing a name with thread on a piece of muslin forced me to once again consider the crushing magnitude of what each name on the list represents and the hole it leaves in the hearts of loved ones who must go on without the soldier they loved.

I stitched Marilyn's name in June with turquoise embroidery floss, sitting in the passenger seat while my husband drove my daughters and I to a Lake Michigan beach. It was an odd thing to be stitching the name of a fallen solider on the way to enjoy a vacation day on a hot beach where my daughters would play with sand toys, collect rocks and squeal with delight each time a chilly wave rushed over their toes.

As an American, I enjoy a pretty peaceful existence. But, like many others, I often forget about the cost. On this particular day, I stitched myself a painful reminder that I doubt I'll forget. This episode of CraftSanity will hopefully lead you to consider what you can do to attempt to make sense of the horrors of war. We might not be able to stitch global peace, but we can remember the people who died and support the people who loved them as we continue to try to dream up more sensible ways to work out our differences.

Tune in for a coversation with Anne Landre and Marilyn's stepdaughter, Sherri Gabbard.

This week's project: Download Anne Landre's instructions for transferring text to fabric (PDF). It's the technique she used to transfer the names of the soldiers onto the swatches for the Mother's Day Project.

And the winner is: Congrats to Teri of Overlnd, Kansas. You won book giveway for "Paper Crafting with Carol Duvall." Enjoy!

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