A warm and welcome surprise for veterans 

  • Linda Lynch, an Army veteran and member of the Turners Falls High School Class of 1967, holds up her Quilt of Valor during a class reunion at Northfield Golf Course. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Denis Bordeaux, an Air Force veteran and member of the Turners Falls High School Class of 1967, holds up his Quilt of Valor during a class reunion at Northfield Golf Course. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Military veterans from the Turners Falls High School Class of 1967 hold up their Quilts of Valor during their class reunion at Northfield Golf Course. COURTESY PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2022 2:45:17 PM
Modified: 8/26/2022 2:41:42 PM

A surprise months in the making, military veterans received quilts of valor to honor their military service during this month’s Turners Falls High School Class of 1967 reunion on Aug. 13 at the Beech House facility of the Northfield Golf Course.

“It was a huge surprise,” said Navy veteran Jim Tessier, who now lives in Eliot, Maine. “They did a great job keeping it a secret.”

Donna Adams-Argy, a member of the Freedom Quilters of Millbury and planner of the reunion, said she began working on quilts for the veterans during a quilting retreat earlier this year. Each quilt, handmade with patriotic imagery and the nation’s colors, carried forward a tradition that has honored veterans nationwide since 2003, according to the Quilts of Valor foundation.

“Anyone who served in the U.S. armed forces, I think they deserve recognition,” Adams-Argy said.

Adams-Argy said she put extreme care into ensuring that the veterans would not find out about the award until the quilts were brought out at the union. With only a select couple of people involved with the ceremony in the know, the awarding of quilts “was a total surprise to everybody, from the veterans to everyone who attended from the Class of 1967,” Adams-Argy recalled.

“Another individual I worked with said they were dumbfounded,” she added.

“It blew me away,” said Air Force veteran Robert Walker, who now lives in Gill. “It was so sudden and unexpected that this organization made this beautiful quilt. I was just blown away and … so honored to be in the company of my other classmates who received the same honor.”

Tessier said he and the other veterans present were “all very, very pleased” when they were recognized. Getting recognition roughly half a century after his service carried added importance, he added, considering the disrespect those in the military received while serving during the controversial Vietnam War era.

“It meant a lot to me — and I’m sure all the eight others who received (a quilt) — because it meant the people in our class felt it was important to recognize our service,” Tessier said.

“It’s hanging on my bedroom wall right now,” Walker said of his quilt. “I look at it when I wake up every day and I’ll look at it every night before I go to bed for the rest of my life.”

Thinking back on his time at Turners Falls High School, Tessier recalled having a “really great class” that shared a tight bond. He particularly remembered the success of the football team in his senior year, as well as a school play where nearly the entire class was involved. 55 years later, the connections between classmates remain strong.

“There were many people out in the audience crying,” Tessier observed during the reception of quilts. “It just made a great reunion even better.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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