Fonda, IA (ABC9 News) - On Saturday afternoon American flags in Fonda symbolized more than patriotism. They stood for 7 heroes who served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan who are no longer with their families. To honor them, the 7 families received what are called freedom quilts at a special ceremony. Each quilt tells the story of their loved one, the story that the recipients want the world to know.
"He was definitely a family man as well as a warrior," said Leona Retzer, mother of former Navy Seal. Betty Nielsen started Freedom Quilts in 2001. Since then, she's made nearly 1,000 of them. "When you wrap yourself with it, it gives you warmth, and it gives you comfort, and their hasn't been a family yet, that's received a quilt that hasn't felt that comfort. Some of them say, they feel their loved ones arms around them, so I figured a quilt," said Nielsen. Those family members who received their quilt on Saturday agree and feel their loved one's presence is alive through the quilt. "It will always remind me of him, and what's even more important that it will always remind me, especially on those hard days, that people really do care," said Retzer. It will also get them through difficult times.
"I plan on laying it on my guest room bed, so I can walk in it every day and see it," said Florence McSween. These families are from all over the country, from California all the way to Pennsylvania, but they'll always remember their time in Iowa through this fabric that holds so much meaning. "It's amazing to know that somewhere, someone spent a lot of time making that quilt and put it together for me, that's a great feeling," said Daniel Freedman, who is the brother of a former marine.
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