Unsung women who've served America receive an honor handmade in the mountains

In honor of Women's History Month, Charles George VA Medical Center held a ceremony to honor 12 veterans. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

In honor of Women's History Month, a dozen local veterans received an honor that gives them comfort and a sense of pride.

At Charles George VA Medical Center, the women were presented with Quilts of Valor handmade by volunteers.

"It's very emotional. Sometimes, I can't get through the ceremony without shedding tears," Carlie Nichols, of the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild of Western North Carolina, said.

"I can't even describe it. It's an honor," veteran Rebecca Hughes said.

The recipients were Cheryl Logan (Army), Rebecca Hughes (Air Force), Joy Faith Dietle (Navy), Diana Hixenbaugh (Army Reserves), Virginia Lee Golden (Navy), Deanna Goode (Army), Sandra Robinson (Army), Mary Joan Dickson (Air Force), Ernestine Goodine (Army), Dani’El Garvin (Air Force), Patricia Lambert Malcolm (Army), Shenekia Williams-Johnson (Navy), Sharon Kelly West (Army Reserves), and Winnie Sandford (Air Force/Army).

Across the country, there are 2 million women serving our country. Over the years, their patriotism has served the country well. At this ceremony, speakers sang the praises of unsung heroes, because where would America be without the sacrifice of women.

"I commend you, and I salute you," associate medical center director Robert Evans said. "These brave women represent a circle of service and a circle of trust. You know what I mean, they are our tribe!"

It's the kind of moment when veterans are often awarded medals or ribbons. In this case, Nichols and the other quilters made this event unique.

"Women veterans are right on my heart," she told the group. "You took it upon yourself to do unbearable things at unbearable times, and I thank you for everything you have done."

Every veteran feels the love coming from the fabric of America. The warmth was overwhelming to Sandra Robinson, who's one of the recipients.

"I'm just humbled by this experience," Robinson said. "A Quilt of Valor for our service, our time. We all volunteered, women volunteered to serve our country."

They wore the quilts like a badge of honor, which is the payoff for the folks who made them.

"I am so excited. This is like a blessing," Deanna Goode said.

The quilters recognized women of different generations, including the greatest generation.

"Her name is Winnie Sanders," Nichols explained, drawing applause from the crowd. "And we have a Quilt of Valor that will be taken to her after the program."

Honorable people know an honor when they see one. The quilts are a memento they'll share with family one day, but maybe not today.

"It's so nice and warm," said Robinson. "I've got to make sure my husband, who's a veteran, don't try to take my quilt!"

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