By Katrina Bergey
On Friday, August 2, at the veterans cemetery in Preston a remarkable veteran, Dean Alden, received his Quilt of Valor.
Quilts of Valor is an organization that was founded in 2003 by a woman named Catherine Roberts whose son had served in Iraq. “The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comfort and healing Quilts of Valor,” as stated on their website. Women and men from across the United States donate their time to help make and present these quilts to the courageous veterans while meeting certain design and material requirements. Besides donating time, many families, especially the ones that receive quilts, donate money to help fund quilts for other veterans. You can find more information and details on the website www.qovf.org.
As a veteran, Dean qualified for a Quilt of Valor. His niece, Donna Aldinger, heard about the Quilts of Valor organization through a friend. After asking several questions and researching on her own, Donna contacted Dean’s other nieces and nephews who unanimously decided this would be the perfect way to honor their Uncle Dean. Donna filled out the application and, shortly after, was notified her uncle was getting a quilt of his own! Donna stated she was thrilled Dean had been chosen and that the planning began soon after.
Luckily, Marie Wilson of Rochester is a quilter for the organization and was ecstatic to be a part of it. A majority of the quilts made display patriotic colors, however, they can be tailored to a veteran or their family’s specific desires. On the back of each quilt, there are numerous writings to help identify and personalize each quilt such as the veteran’s name, years of service, quilter’s name, and location and date of the awarding ceremony. A number is also placed on the back to ensure nobody can receive more than one. These special touches elevate the already moving, exceptional quilts.
Dean Alden is native to Fillmore County. He grew up right outside of Preston where he still resides today with his wife Lois. When Dean was a child, he was often referred to as a “cowboy.” Throughout his life, he has always enjoyed working in the agricultural field by driving milk truck and working on the farm, particularly the Hellickson family’s farms. His great work ethic and courage would prompt him to enlist to fight for our country.
Dean enlisted right in Fillmore County in January of 1957. First, he was taken to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. Later, he was transferred to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to attend jump school, which is training required for paratroopers. Following his training, he was deployed to Europe. He spent a majority of his time in Germany in the cities Munich and Augsburg. While stationed there, he made several jumps. After a dedicated two years of service, Dean was discharged in January of 1959.
The presentation to Dean with this outstanding quilt was a heartwarming ceremony held at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Preston. The ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance to acknowledge our country. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the history of Dean’s time in duty was given by his nephew Joe Afseth. Then, the quilter, Marie Wilson, gave background on the Quilts of Valor organization, the patches on the quilt, and what she knew about Dean. Marie proceeded to recite a heartfelt poem. Ending the ceremony was the awarding of the quilt to Dean.
The ceremony was definitely a success. Deb Larson, of Preston and niece of Dean, commented on the ceremony, saying, “It went very well and was a great tribute to a deserving veteran.” All veterans deserve recognition and respect for their selfless duties to protect our country. The Quilt of Valor is a wonderful way to show your appreciation for their service. There are several other ways to help honor a veteran, so don’t forget to show your gratitude for them!