The Superior Express -

Russ Menke receives Quilt of Valor


Russell Menke is covered with his 'Quilt of Valor' and surrounded by those who helped make the Quilt presentation possible following Memorial Day ceremonies Monday. Kay Theer (standing, second from left) originated, organized and promoted the Quilt of Valor cooperation between the younger members of the community and the Veterans. Pictured (from left) are Presley Adams, Kay Theer, Maddy Laughlin, Jessica Himmelberg, Avery Ostdiek and Adriyanna Mazour. Missing from the picture was Kara Peters.

Lawrence 4-H members of the 'Dry Creek' and 'Farm Friends' 4-H Clubs used the occasion of the 2021 Memorial Day observance to recognize one of the military veterans living in Lawrence.

Following the Kent-Kailey American Legion Post 45 ceremonies at the five area cemeteries, the presentation of the Quilt of Valor was made preceding a noon lunch at the Lawrence American Legion Hall.

The story behind the public presentation has an interesting aspect as well as the history of the Quilts of Valor.

The background on the Quilts of Valor states: "The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover the service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor." The project began in 2003 by Catherine Roberts whose son was deployed in Iraq. One night she had a terrible dream seeing a soldier deployed somewhere in the world, sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night. (A scene of gloom and despair.) But then she saw him sitting on the side of his bed, wrapped in a quilt that comforted him, knowing someone cared.

The background of the Quilt of Valor given to Mr. Menke was this: Lawrence resident, Kay Theer, visited the State Fair in Grand Island several years ago admiring the Quilts of Valor display in the 4-H building. She was disappointed Nuckolls County did not have a quilt on display. Mrs. Theer visited with the Nuckolls County Extension office and inquired about working with 4-Hers in local clubs to make a quilt.

As such, in the spring of 2020 six girls started hanging out at Kay's house to construct the quilt awarding to Mr. Menke. It was judged to be 'Best in Class' at the Nuckolls County Fair and was displayed at the 2020 State Fair 4-H Showcase.

Plans were made to award the quilt at the school's Veteran's Day Program but the Covid-19 pandemic limitations limited the public participation to the program. As such, they solicited the cooperation of the Lawrence American Legion and moved the presentation to the Memorial Day observances.

The 4-H girls held a great discussion about who should be awarded the quilt. They were very aware of veteran sacrifices and their continuing contributions to our communities. In the end, they chose someone they appreciate as a school bus driver and the guy that gets the ball fields ready and the swimming pool running.

Russell Menke served in the U. S. Army from July 1978 to July 1982 and in the U. S. Army Reserve from 1982 to 1996. As a reserve soldier, he was called up and deployed to Desert Storm in January 1991. After beginning as a light vehicle mechanic, he ended his service as a heavy vehicle mechanic with a rank of Specialist Fourth Class.


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