10 August, 2008

Angels Among Us... With Blankets

I'm up to my eyeballs in Soldiers' Angels, but not often on the front lines. I've spent time at bedsides and among the walking (and recovering) wounded, but not with any regularity; my talents seem to lie most strongly elsewhere right now.

So when I see something breathtaking like this, I think of people like MaryAnn.

[click for hi-res and soruce]

MaryAnn and her little band of Angels in Germany are extraordinary--they minister to the wounded who have been evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan, often within mere hours of combat; some are conscious, some are not, but MaryAnn and her Angels are at all their bedsides. They spend hours comforting them and trying to reassure their worried families via phone or email. Whether the wounded know it or not, Angels are watching over them. And following closely on their heels are the Angels who operate out of Bethesda and Walter Reed, who meet the wounded coming home from Germany, who sit beside families anxiously awaiting a first look at their wounded loved one, and stand ready to assist the family and that loved one in any way possible upon arrival.

But like all good artwork, this piece has multiple levels. Its main point is a tribute to the Soldiers' Angels"blankets" programs. The Blankets of Hope (BOH) program rivals almost anything else Soldiers' Angels does, in terms of scope and impact. Letters and thank yous pour into Soldiers' Angels for these blankets (scroll down at the link above). BOH provides handmade quilted and fleece blankets to patients in stateside military medical facilities such as Walter Reed, Brooke (BAMC) and Bethesda, and overseas to Landstuhl. It also supplies the handmade blankets that go into each First Response backpack for the wounded.

Blankets of Gratitude are knit/woven blankets that go to patients in VA medical facilities around the country with the intention of showing our veterans we haven't forgotten them.

And then there are Blankets of Belief. This is the crazy one -- 180,000 blankets to the deployed as part of Holiday care packages to show them "We Believe in You!" I thought it was insane when I heard about it, but Soldiers' Angels tends to specialize in the impossible--thousands of blankets have already been collected, though many more are needed.

So, if you know people who like to sew, (or even those who don't know how), I think I know some people who would be verrry interested in them...

But back to the artwork... Breathtaking is definitely the word. I haven't had this kind of reaction to a visual since Cox & Forkum's Valour-IT cartoon popped into my email box in 2005. Thank you, Sagebrush. It's an inadequate response to your brilliant gift, but it's all I've got...

Thank you.