While I don't support war, I do support our troops. To show my appreciation, I decided to participate in the Soldier Memorial Project. This project honors soldiers who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Stitchers are provided free charts, and a list of names in order to choose a soldier. I chose one from my area.
His name was Branden Ramey. He was from Belvidere, Illinois. He was only 22 when he lost his life during the Iraq War in 2004.
This is #3 toward my Project Challenge. Freedom is a pattern by Stoney Creek. It's part of Leaflet 272 called Colors of Freedom. It's been stitched on 16ct. aida with DMC floss. I changed the colors in the poem, as I didn't like the ones called for in the chart. I also changed the type of buttons used. This project was started in September 2005. The wood frame has a beautiful cherry finish, and I triple-matted the project with blue, red, and black.
The Poem reads: "Cherish your freedom and guard it with honor and respect for it carries the blood of those who gave it to you."
Underneath, I stitched:
With 194.5 hours invested in stitching, it is finally ready to go to it's new home. I hope it will be a cherished piece.
Originally, Freedom was to be sent to his mother who also lived in Belvidere. Unfortunately, she died in September 2006. It was by accident I came across her death, since I rarely read the paper -- Let alone a newspaper from that area. One day, I opened the paper and there it was... She had died. I thought to myself, "Now what am I going to do?" I did an internet search for the father who I thought I'd read somewhere that he lived in CA. No luck. I started posting to the Memorial groups on Yahoo. My thanks go out to Helen who did some legwork and came up with an email address of Branden's stepmother, who in turn forwarded the email address and telephone number for Branden's father.
There are hundreds of families who would appreciate a thoughtful memorial. To participate in the Soldier Memorial Project, visit one of these sites:
Yahoo Cross Stitch Our Heroes
Yahoo American Soldier Memorial Project
Geocities American Soldier Memorial Project
Yahoo No Soldier Left Behind Memorial
Freedom is a pretty elaborate piece, and not one of the free charts provided by the Memorial Project. Don't think, "I'd like to do one, but can't do a piece like that." You don't have to. The free charts are much simpler and faster to stitch up -- for anyone who'd like to stitch a memorial project.
Here's what people had to say:
Nancy in IL: Meari, your framed Freedom is so wonderful, especially in light of the thought of its purpose. I tried to post this comment to your blog, but Google is still being crummy with me: "Meari, what a beautiful and heartfelt work of love for such a worthy recipient! It brings tears to my eyes. I'm humbled."
Robin in PA: That looks great, Meari! I'm sure that the soldier's father and family will really be honored to receive it!
Jolene C: Wow Meari! Freedom is amazing. It is a very sad story the one you have written, but I'm sure that his family will appreciate the effort you did.
Rosa W: Meari, I really love "Freedom", as I am a Disabled Vet and my DH is a Desert Storm Vet. It has special meaning for us what you did and so let me say thank you. The family that recieves that will love it forever.
Patty in Canada: Just wanted to tell you that your freedom turned out very nice you should be so very proud of it and I bet it will be hard to part with.
Helen in TN: The finished memorial is beautiful and looks like you put 294 hours of work into it! I know his family will be so touched by it. Congratulations on finishing it and thanks for posting the photo for us to see.
Kathie M: Meari, Your "Freedom" is so beautiful! I am so glad you put the story with it in your blog. You have done something that will be cherished by someone forever. It is absolutely beautiful!
Katie in IN: Wow Meari beautiful piece for a sad reason. Great Job.
Olwen: Wonderful job Meari, it is really beautiful, and a great tribute to
such a young man.
Pat in NM: Meari, Freedom is absolutely beautiful and I was so taken by the story I have signed up to take part and picked a name from New Mexico. I did not know those sites were out there. Can hardly wait to get started. Thanks for the information and maybe we can get more stitchers to go to the site.
Nancy: Your plaque is gorgeous!
Sharon G in FL: This is beautiful!!! Congrats on a wonderful finish!!!!
Lisa E in TX: It's absolutely beautiful. As the niece of a fallen soldier, I know first hand how amazing it feels (I really can't come up with the words for it) when someone you don't know does soemthing to honor your missing family member. I'm glad you were able to track his father down.
Lynn in MI: What a beautiful piece! The framing just compliments the cross stitch very well. You do wonderful work and should be very proud!
Linda K: Your Freedom is just out of this world and I love it...that is so pretty.
Wanda in Canada: Meari, what a lot of work you did. It is a beautiful piece. I read the story in your blog. You went to a lot of work to find the soldier’s father. Good for you!
Jen B in WI: It looks incredible!!! What a great tribute! I actually signed up for the soldier memorial project, too. I'm just waiting for her to send me the home of the brave pattern so I can stitch it for a family that lives just a few miles from me. Their son died a few months ago and our local VFW decided to line the streets from the funeral home to the cemetary with people holding flags so i volunteered to hold a flag. And then I saw his name on the list! It was meant to be. I love that we can use our talents and our passion to provide some solace to these familes who have sacrificed so much for our freedom!!
Dee in TN: Great job Meari. I love how you framed it too. His dad should be really proud of his son and of your piece honouring his son.
Virpi in Finland: Your finish looks great and the frames are beatiful. How nice way to support the families in their biggest loss. I's sure your gift is apreciated.
Jennifer B: Meari, Freedom looks great.
Tracy W: Freedom is absolutely beautiful - you did such a wonderful job. Way to go!!
Alison M in TX: OMG Meari!! That is beautiful!!! It gave me chills reading about it. My nephew is a Lance Cpl in the Marines too. He is over in Iraq now for the 3rd time. We haven't talked to him is 3 weeks and will be a while before we do (Jan at the earlest). He is in deep right now, special ops. His name is Brandon too, and he is 23.
Cathy in MN: Meari it turned out totally awesome! You did one fantastic job on it. Seeing yours makes me know that I will get back to mine one of these days. GREAT Stitching!!!
Glenda: Absolutely beautiful, Meari!!!
Janice: Meari, I loved your framed Freedom. That is a most beautiful piece of stitching! I am sure it will be cherished by the soldier's father. It was great you found him. You did a wonderful job.
Gillian: Freedom is beautiful Meari. I'm sure that his father will be deeply touched that you stitched this piece.
Nat in Australia: Oh wow that is really lovely. You've done a great job.
Shirley in KY: Just beautiful Meari... wonderful job, and a project you can be very proud of.
Pam K: It's gorgeous Meari! And what a wonderful thing to do for the family of that soldier. It is a shame his mother never got to see it, but I'm sure his father will cherish it. I know I would.
Connie in FL: It's beautiful, Meari. You 'done' good on it.
Nancy M: Meari, that is fantastic!!! Isn't is a nice feeling to have done something so wonderful for someone?? I too have checked out the website to see what I could do.
Lynette in UK: Freedom is amazing Meari and what a lovely idea behind the project. Pity that the young man's mother never got to see it but I'm sure his father will be very touched.
Gayle: Meari, Is is awesome, love the frame,it is perfect!
Sue V: Meari.........what a lovely, thoughtful thing to do... it is gorgeous and I am sure it will be well appreciated by his family. You did a fantastic job!!!
Marge: What a wonderful thing to do. Wouldn't it be nice if that compassion spread at least 10 fold.
Emily D: It turned out so beautiful!! They will be honored to receive it!!
Judith T in OH: It's beautiful, Meari! And you've insprired me to do something as well. I've a son who may well be in Iraq as soon as he finished his school in TX and his hospital internship. He's active duty National Guard.
Barb K: That turned out beautiful! What a tribute to a young life cut short by the war.
Anita S: Wow Meari that was really awesome. I checked some of the sites out, and am thinking hard about possibly doing one myself. Nice job!
Jo-Ann B: It's beautiful Meari - I'm sure his father will be very honored to receive it. What an amazing piece and a touching tribute to his son. You've done a wonderful thing for him.
Alis: It is a gorgeous piece. I love the frame. I also want to thank you for posting about this project. I have decided to try and do one for a soldier around here. I think that it is the least that we can do for those who lost their lives for us. I agree I do not support the war but I do support our troops.
Lisa: Beautiful, Meari.
Wadsworth: GREAT JOB!!! I'm almost on the second page of my Stoney Creek memorial Let Freedom Ring (the Eagle head with flag). I started it on Thanksgiving Day. I think the Stoney Creeks are very majestic looking but take a lot of work. Worth it I think.
Shelly B: You are an AWESOME stitcher... I KNOW Branden's father will LOVE it and be FOREVER grateful to you for your hard work and dedication. It's just a shame that his mother could not see the finished piece.
Linda H in MA: It looks fabulous Meari!
Faye M: It turned out awesome. Keep up the good work.
Viv in UK: It's really beautiful Meari - congratulations. I'm sure it will be cherished.
Jan: Hi Meari, It is Beautiful... Good job
Leah: Meari, that is absolutely beautiful!! Seeing that young man in your blog just brought tears to my eyes. Your wonderful work will be received, I’m sure, with tears and appreciation. Wonderful work!!
Amanda W: What a lovely thing to do Meari, i'm sure his Father will be thrilled and touched by your dedication and thoughtfulness.
Leslie: Meari, you did a fantastic job, you can be proud along with being
excited and what a great cause.
Janice: That is absolutely beautiful.I would love to do one for the fallen soldier from my hometown who's son works with my son.Thank you for the info and I will check it out further.
Marcy: It looks great Meari. You should be extremely proud of this piece. Congrats!
Petra: This is a very pretty piece. I think his father will cherish it forever.
Kelly in UK: Absolutely stunning Meari! He was so handsome... and so young...
Marge B: Your Freedom is absolutly beautiful. I am sure that his father will absolutly treasure it for years to come. I am sure, that after his mother passed away, she was there in spirit with you as you worked on it, guiding and encouraging you.
Denise R: Wow Meari! Very nice! Tell us more about the Soldier Memorial project. It sounds like a really great idea.
Lynne Mc: Meari, it is stunning. I'm sure his father will treasure it.
Kim H in NY: That is absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful kind thing to do.
Michelle M in NC: That is an absolutely stunning piece! GREAT JOB!
Renee in TN: Wow! It looks beautiful! This has inspired me to do one for the project! There was a young man killed recently in Iraq from my area. My brother knew him. As a matter of fact, his body was to arrive back here today. My brother isn't taking it very well and I think he would appreciate my doing this as well as his family. I plan to bring it up to him and see what he thinks.
Tina in AL: It is just beautiful!
Jamie in OH: It looks awesome!
Noreen: That is very nice and I'm touched that you would stitch a piece like this for someone you probably don't know personally. Congratulations!!
Robin: That is beautiful! You did a lovely job!
Margaret in NY: Beautiful job!
Amy D: It looks great! I'm sure the family will love it.
Chris: It is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing and for inspiring. I'm going to check into the project.
Candace: It is beautiful and something I'm sure his family will love.
Michelle in AL: That is gorgeous!!
Tawyna in MA: THAT'S WOW!!! Good work.
Megan in NJ: It is really stunning!
Victoria: Wow, it's an amazing piece, looks wonderful!
Another interesting project I've come across is called Any Soldier. It was originally started in 2003 by a soldier stationed in Iraq. He agreed to distribute care packages to soldiers in his brigade who were not getting any mail. It has expanded to include any member of any armed forces in harms way.