Twenty-four military veterans were surprised with handmade quilts on Saturday from a few dedicated quilters with the Knoxville chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
At the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the veterans knew they were being honored with a chili dinner, but didn't know they were going to receive a quilt they could pass on to their children and grandchildren commemorating their service.
"We decided we would like to honor the veterans in our congregation for Veterans Day," said Doyleen Taylor, leader of the Knoxville area Quilts of Valor. "I think we owe it to them because they've done a lot for us and sacrificed so much."
Taylor said she has given quilts to several servicemen and women since joined Quilts of Valor about three years ago and appreciates how grateful they all are to receive the recognition and the personal thank you a handmade quilt brings.
"I've had a lot of wonderful talks with some of these guys and how proud they are of being a veteran and their heritage of veteran (relatives) all the way back to the Civil War," she said.
After a singing of the national anthem, the veterans received a pillowcase with a quilt inside, each with its own name and inscribed with the military branch in which the vet served.
Veterans young and old were honored ranging in ages of 23 to 80-plus. With a father who served in World War II, a husband who served in the Vietnam War and a grandson who served in Afghanistan, Taylor knows what it's like to have multiple family members from multiple wars come together.
"I think all of them are deserving. It's a wide range of wars being honored," Taylor said. "One of the biggest benefits of giving quilts to these veterans is showing how much we appreciate what they've done for us."