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Spotsylvania woman, preschoolers present quilt to Marine.
Date published: 5/21/2012
"You can get a whole bunch of medals to put across your chest, but when you take them off forever, they go into a box," she said. "This is something tangible they can have forever."
The teachers at Stepping Stone preschool traced the handprints of the 4- and 5-year-olds, and Barclay transferred each one to a colorful piece of fabric. Like the children, no two pieces of fabric are the same.
Under each handprint, Barclay stitched the child's name. Then she asked long-arm quilter Ginger Cook of Stafford, whose late husband was also a Marine, to stitch together the quilt's top, middle and bottom.
She displayed the finished product at Stepping Stone for a few weeks so the kids could see their handiwork.
"They're made with love and prayers and healing thoughts, and it's a way for us to show our love, appreciation and thanks for service members who fight to protect America," Barclay told them.
To find a Marine recipient, she turned to Gunnery Sgt. Chris Hanzlik at the local recruiting center. He recommended Harrell.
'THANK YOU SO MUCH'
Harrell grew up in Sevierville, Tenn. After high school, he attended community college and worked several jobs, but "I needed a change of pace, to do something a little more important," he said.
So he joined the Marines in July 2006, becoming a data technician.
In May of the following year--three weeks after his marriage to Alexandra and one day shy of his 23rd birthday--he deployed to Iraq with Marine Air Control Squadron 2 out of Cherry Point, N.C.
He worked on computer networks and communications during that tour and a subsequent one in 2009 with Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 28.
Harrell re-enlisted in 2009 and has been a recruiter in Fredericksburg for the last year.
He credits the Corps with teaching him leadership skills, and he said he's been humbled by the professionalism of those he's worked with.
"I would honestly say that everything I am, everything I will be, I owe back to the Marine Corps," said Harrell, who turns 28 on Sunday.
He spends a lot of his time talking to high school students considering careers in the military. But he got a kick out of meeting the Stepping Stone preschoolers last week. They sang "You're a Grand Old Flag" for him while marveling at his crisp uniform.
"It's going to be awesome when my little man right here is going to have that on his bed, and he'll have a little piece of you," Harrell told the kids as Warren dozed in his mother's arms.
"I'll definitely cherish this. Thank you so much."
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428
The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover all service members touched by war with "comforting and healing Quilts of Valor."
For more information, visit the organization's website, qovf.org.