Commemorating terror's victims, square by square

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Several Juneau quilters are putting together part of a project they hope will help the nation recover from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Barbara Knapp drummed up local interest in the World Trade Center Memorial Quilt Project after surfing the Internet while wondering what to do in response to the attacks.

"When my mother was under stress she baked cookies. I quilt," said Knapp.

The memorial project was started by Amy Leasure of Prescott, Ariz., and Chris Davis of Houston, Texas, who met through online quilt "swaps."

"They decided that they wanted to do something so that the victims of this horrible act were never forgotten," said the project's national spokesman Dave Snodgrass. "The quilt will be constructed so that there will be one block or quilted square for every single victim who died in this attack."

An online plea for star-themed quilt squares brought an overwhelming response, including one from Knapp. The call then went out for quilters to assemble the squares into panels, and again Knapp was among those who answered.

When she got her shipment of squares, it was a moving experience.

"It was a bit like opening a package of hallowed ground," said Knapp, who works for the state Department of Health and Social Services. "People do all sorts of exceptional things when there's just one little piece they're working on."

Knapp recruited fellow members of Capital City Quilters to help assemble 10 panels of 25 squares each. Some were put together during a Saturday gathering at St. Paul's Catholic Church Fellowship Hall.

Local quilter Jaxine Andersen said she's amazed at the different approaches quilters took to the red, white and blue star theme.

"Some used Americana fabrics. Somebody embroidered in one of the blocks and another has an eagle holding an American flag," said Andersen, owner of Rain Tree Quilting. "Some of them have stars within stars."

Some quilters attached notes or embroidered messages in places that will be seen only by those assembling the squares, Knapp said. Some dedicated their creative work to a particular victim, such as a rescue dog or a firefighter who died in the attacks.

"Everyone has a thought in their heart," she said. "It's like a quilter's little prayer or homily that we put inside."

Quilt panels assembled in Juneau will go on display Dec. 1 at Northern Light United Church downtown. The panels have ribbon ties that will be used to join the efforts of quilters around the nation into one or several large memorials that will tour the sites of the terrorist attacks before being given to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Andersen said that although the individual squares moved her, the final quilt will be incredible.

"You can image how overwhelming that will be," she said.

More information on the quilt project is on the Internet at Ed Schoenfeld can be reached at

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