Quilt Maker Shares her Heart for Veterans, Patriotism
In honor of her late husband and those we serve at Boot Campaign, Shelley Bryant donated a handmade, patriotic quilt to be put towards a live auction at our Annual Boots & Barrels Clay Shoot in San Antonio, Texas.
As someone with a rich family history of service, we were encouraged to discuss more about her purpose behind sharing such beautiful works of art to honor those who have experienced both physical and invisible wounds of war.
How did you first learn about Boot Campaign?
I first learned about Boot Campaign from Torrie Rogers (Boot Campaign Board Member) and Jeff Ulfig who are my neighbors. They served in the Navy for 22 years and 26 years respectively. I had made them a quilted military wall hanging for a previous fundraiser and wanted to make another. My hope was that it would raise money to help Veterans in some way. Perhaps they need help in finding their community or have some special need that could be addressed financially.
Why is supporting the Veteran and military community important to you?
Although my husband and son did not serve in the military, I come from a long line who have served. My grandfather, Raymond Smith, and father-in-law, Merle Arthur served in WWI; my uncle, Myron Smith, served in WWII and died in a B-24 (also called the Flying coffin) training accident, my father, Gerald Smith served as a sergeant in the Army/Aircorp in WWII; my brother, Lt. Col. James Smith, was a career officer and helicopter pilot, flying Hueys in the Vietnam War; my brother-in-law, also a career soldier, served in the Vietnam War; my great nephew is a Second Lieutenant in the Army, while his new bride serves in the Coast Guard.
There have been times through the years when the military was not so popular, like during VietNam. I remember when my brother returned from VietNam in 1971, the Veterans were degraded and humiliated after giving up so much. That was a sad time when our country did not honor and respect those who served and the many who sacrificed the ultimate.
What does patriotism mean to you?
With my hand over my heart and a lump in my throat, I cry every time I hear the national anthem. It is more than just a beautiful melody and words, it represents so many freedoms we enjoy every day without a second thought. We can worship any religion we choose, our rights for speech without penalty and fair trial are ensured, the right to travel about our country freely uncontested. Patriotism is a core belief along with many other beliefs that I value deeply in my heart and soul. Knowing there is a right and wrong, but always choosing right; understanding that I have been blessed with family and friends, but choosing to be a friend; serving my community by giving of my time, resources and any talent I may have is an honor and a way I can serve and give back as so many others have done for me. I realize as do so many others in this world that it is a privilege to live in the United States where all these freedoms are guaranteed rights.
You Matter are two words important to Boot Campaign. What do those words mean to you?
“You Matter” are two simple words that have a deeply significant meaning. Each and every person matters and deserves honor, respect and human rights. That is the whole point in military service or service of any kind. Military Service men and women sacrifice all over the world and in the most difficult circumstances to assure us that We Matter.