To Thank VA Hospital For Its Service
Okla Edgell didn’t learn to sew until he was 80 years old,
taking up the task after his wife told him he needed to get a
hobby. But he has since produced a series of quilts and other
items that would lead a person to believe Edgell had been
doing it all of his life.
Because he has been coming to the Louis A. Johnson VA
Medical Center for a number of years, Edgell wanted to find a
way to show his appreciation for what he called “exceptional
care”. So the Fairmont native put his newfound skill to use.
He donated a wall hanging that he handcrafted that will be
displayed at the hospital’s main lobby information desk for
what he hopes will be many years to come.
“This flag means a lot to me and to every veteran who
fought to keep America free,” said Edgell, a World War II
veteran and former prisoner of war who is approaching his
th birthday. “It is hoped that those who view it will
appreciate the value of our freedom.”
Hospital acting medical director Barbara Forsha called the
wall hanging “truly a treasure we will value every day.” She
said having the Pledge of Allegiance wall hanging fits well
with the vision of the VA because each work day is started
with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.
“This demonstrates yours and our patriotism,” Forsha said,
adding that having the display at the entrance to the hospital
will allow everyone who enters the facility to see his work of
Edgell was part of a B-24 bomber crew that was shot down
over Holland in April of 1945. Four of the crew members
were killed, and the remaining four were taken prisoner by
German soldiers. He was taken to a prison camp and was
walking up to a platform where he would be executed when a
group of German soldiers convinced the SS to spare Edgell’s
life. He was eventually taken to another POW camp, where he
lost 30 pounds before being liberated several weeks later when
the war ended.
Edgell’s wife Arlene said it is hoped that the presentation
ceremony will quiet recent negativity surrounding the VA
hospital, and instead, allow people to focus on the positive
aspects of the hospital and its staff.
“Thousands of veterans pass through the halls of this
hospital,” she said. “One only has to spend a couple of hours
here to see the extent of injuries that these men and women
have endured. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all
the doctors, nurses, and staff members who make this hospital
a reality for those in need.”
The 24×28-inch quilted wall hanging features the Pledge of
Allegiance, the flag, and an eagle. The wall hanging took over
250,000 stitches to complete.
“Okey and I grew up reciting this Pledge, and it saddens me
when I witness others who will not stand for our flag, nor will
they salute when it passes by,” Arlene said. “It is our prayer
that this wall hanging will be a constant reminder of what the
flag really means, and that all persons who witness it will
pause to reflect on the fact that freedom is not free. It was
purchased with the blood of many veterans, including those
who are still fighting to keep our nation free.”