Martin finds purpose by making quilts for local veterans
By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Wednesday’s annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Johnson City/Washington County Veterans’ Memorial was very different, but isn’t everything in 2020?
Gary McAllister served as the Master of Ceremonies for the abbreviated event, which consisted of the National Anthem, the laying of a wreath at the memorial and the playing of Taps. Allen Jackson and Moe Baines did the honor of laying the wreath before the socially distanced crowd dispersed back out into the world.
Standing quietly at the edge of the crowd was Pat Martin, who was clearly in her element at an event honoring veterans. Since 2012, Martin has been making patriotic quilts and handing them out to every veteran she comes across.
“It was my way of giving back,” Martin said. “I donate them. I don’t take any money for them. I’ve made close to 300 of them since 2012, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
Most days, Martin navigates the world on the lookout for hats, clothing or even car tags and bumper stickers that may identify somebody as a veteran. When she finds somebody who served in the military, she pops open the trunk of her car and lets the veteran select a quilt of his or her choice.
Martin, a seamstress by trade who took up quilting in 2000, said she lives for the grateful responses she receives and the conversations that follow.
“I wanted to meet these people one-on-one,” Martin said. “I felt like it was my calling. If I can come across them, I’ll listen to anything they want to tell me.”
Martin didn’t have to look far to find veterans on Wednesday morning. One by one, they dropped by her car and picked out a quilt. After the ceremony was over, Martin wanted to make sure every last veteran who wanted a quilt received one.
When she found out Ed Casida – a soft-spoken Army vet who saw action in Iraq, had yet to receive a quilt – she brought him over to her car and let him pick one out. When Casida was asked about Martin’s random act of kindness, he said, “It’s an honor.”