By Amy Bowen
April 22, 2005
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Reprinted with permission of the St. Cloud Times
In a sea of ocean blue, Kristen Schleepenbach's quilt tells stories of battles a world away that touched lives in Central Minnesota.
Schleepenbach made a quilt, titled "Past, Present and Forever," representing women's work in World War II. The quilt features mementoes from her family's long military past, wartime posters and photos of women in the war.
It will be on display until Tuesday in the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. It will then hang in the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va.
"So many of our women are in the military," said Schleepenbach of St. Cloud. "I love history and found that women in the military are not recognized. I wanted to do it for my family and women in the military in general."
At the quilt's top, Schleepenbach included photographs of her sisters, Kolleen Dickinson and the late Kathleen Whitt. Both served in the military. Dickinson returned about six months ago from Iraq, her sister said.
Schleepenbach started the quilt about a year ago. She collected posters, photos and other personal mementoes. Two of her most prized possessions on the quilt are a crocheted Navy hat and Navy beret from her aunt, Dickie Voth, who served in the war.
Voth of St. Cloud married an officer during the war. She joined because she thought she should do something since her brothers had enlisted.
Aside from the pins and posters, Voth noticed a photo of her and her husband, in full uniform, taken during their first wedding anniversary. The couple eloped during the war, and after a whirlwind honeymoon, her husband had to leave. Voth said she knows all too well what wartime couples go through when deciding to get married quickly. She wasn't going to leave her love, she said. Someone else would have seen what a good catch he was, Voth said.
She teared up as she tightly hugged her niece after seeing the quilt.
"There are a lot of memories in this quilt," Voth said.
The quilt is a way to tell a story, Schleepenbach said. This is her second quilt paying homage to women's roles during World War II. Schleepenbach worked with her co-workers at Gruber's Quilt Shop to make a quilt titled "Women of Grace." That quilt will be raffled off next month at a luncheon for the Women in Military Service in America's Central Minnesota Unit.
"That's my way of telling stories, and that's what my quilt does," Schleepenbach said.
Voth's daughter, D.J., will help present the "Past, Present and Forever" quilt May 29 to Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, president of the Women's Memorial Foundation.
The quilt will then hang in the memorial, said Voth, president of Women in Military Service Central Minnesota Unit.
That's not bad for a quilt Schleepenbach planned to give to a relative.
"It's a beautiful memorial," D.J. Voth said.
Photo credit: Times photo by Dave Schwarz, firstname.lastname@example.org
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