Longtime Sanibel resident and West Wind Inn General Manager Ren Affourtit received a very patriotic surprise on Dec. 18. A dozen close friends and neighbors arrived at his home accompanied by Pat Brettschneider, representing the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
"We saw a piece about the quilts on NBC Nightly News," said Affourtit's friend and neighbor Marc Giattini. "Before Brian Williams finished speaking we knew we had to pursue getting a Quilt of Valor for Ren."
Retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of Colonel, Affourtit's military career carried him from deployment as a Green Beret in Vietnam to service as Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
Quilts of Valor representative Pat Brettschneider, Colonel, USA Retired René Affourtit, and Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra. PHOTO PROVIDED.
During the formal presentation of the 6-by-5-foot quilt, handmade by volunteer quilters Sharyn Wurst and Linda Hancock, Brettschneider's remarks included:
"We understand that freedom is not free, and this quilt is meant to say thank you for your sacrifice. We hope it will serve as a symbol of how much we appreciate your long and illustrious military career, all the way from the battlefield to the highest echelon of the Pentagon."
In his Dec. 19 letter of thanks to Brettschneider, Wurst and Hancock, Affourtit wrote:
"The quilt will always remain a part of me, not just because of your recognition of me (probably undeserved) but for the selfless time the patriotic quilters put into these works of art. They are the ones who should be honored."
Quilts of Valor is a grassroots group of quilters all across the United States whose mission is to honor all our combat service members and veterans who have been touched by war with a Quilt of Valor. Since the group was founded by Catherine Roberts in 2003, when her son deployed to Iraq, over 94,000 quilts have been presented. To learn more about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, including how to request a handmade quilt for a U.S. combat veteran, visit qovf.org