On Friday, May 21 Quilt of Valor member and Madison resident Terry O'Connell awarded Joan Maloney, William Maloney, and Richard Troy, three members of The Country School community, each with a quilt. The Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003 after Catherine Roberts, whose own son Nat was deployed in Iraq, had a dream. She envisioned a troubled and despairing soldier with “war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter.” Miraculously, his demeanor changed to one of hope and well-being when, in the next scene, he found himself wrapped in a quilt. Mrs. Roberts awoke, confident she could stitch quilts that would offer comfort and healing to servicemen like her son.
Volunteer Terry O’Connell has been instrumental in bringing Quilts of Valor to Madison. In 2009 she met a fellow quilter who introduced her to the foundation. Initially Mrs. O’Connell sent her quilts to Afghanistan, where nurses would present the quilts and accompanying letters to wounded vets. When the Quilts of Valor Connecticut Coordinator invited the national quilters to a day of sewing, Mrs. O’Connell approached her husband, Sergeant Greg O’Connell, with the idea of hosting the event at the American Legion in Madison. Thus began regular sewing days and celebrations when area veterans would be awarded for their service. And thanks to Covid, Mrs. O’Connell has had ample time to quilt this past year.
To a gathering of veterans, students, and faculty, Mrs. O'Connell quoted President Theodore Roosevelt as she presented the quilts, saying, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Following the inspirational words, she presented each with a Quilt of Valor.
First Grader Logan Maloney of Ansonia spoke about his mother Joan Maloney, member of the Army National Guard-Military Police, and his grandfather Sergeant First Class William Maloney. “My mom was proud to serve our country. Her favorite part of being in the Army National Guard was ‘the sense of duty and purpose.’ I was so excited when she came home. My grandfather served from 1974 - 1977 in the 25th Infantry Division, from 1990 - 2001 when he had multiple deployments to Central America, and from February 2003 - May 2004 when he was stationed in Iraq. I am so proud of my grandfather.”
Following Logan, 8th Grader Michaela Troy of Madison introduced her father Richard Troy of Ansonia who has service in his blood. Born at the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, ME, he began his service when he enlisted in the CT Army National Guard in 1996. “A decorated serviceman, Master Sergeant Troy’s military assignments have included the 192nd Field Artillery, and the 102nd Infantry Battalions, and 169th Regiment Training Institute. He served as an Instructor at the 169th’s Regional Officer Candidate School Program and was deployed to Bosnia-Hercegovina in 2002 and Afghanistan in 2006 and 2010. I am beyond proud of everything my dad has accomplished so far and I can’t wait to see what more he will accomplish in the future. He is extremely dedicated, a hard worker, and much more. I am so lucky to have a father like him.”