by Mackenzie Jessen
After hours of work by hundreds of GW volunteers, the student-created Freedom Quilt will be displayed on the National Mall next week as part of National Civic Participation Week.
The quilt will be unveiled 11 a.m. Sept. 12 at the base of the Washington Monument to kick off D.C.’s component to National Civic Participation Week, the Freedom Fair.
At least 21 states are participating in National Civic Participation week, which was established by the U.S. Senate last December in the wake of September 11.
GW sophomores Ari Mittleman and Taryn Schaberg began the quilt
project after hearing Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) speak about her role on the Senate’s Arms Services Emerging Threats sub-committee last October.
“Her message was that we need to focus on our role as Americans,” Mittleman said. “She spoke of making a visual reminder of pride in our country, which might deter people from threatening America.”
Landrieu was later made honorary chair of the project.
After registering the Freedom Quilt as a student group with the Student Activities Center in January, the co-founders and a growing committee began to plan the quilt’s creation. The quilt was completed in July, comprising 350 cloth panels.
Many student organizations and each small group at Colonial Inauguration decorated the red and white squares and the flag’s 50 stars. Though the patches were too large for one person to decorate, Mittleman said some were set aside for individuals to autograph, and more will be available for that purpose throughout the fair.
“From a distance, it looks like an American Flag,” Mittleman said. “But up close, people can realize how it shows the diversity of GW.”
The 3-by-3-foot red, white and blue panels were sewn together to create an American flag measuring 91 by 48 feet.
Scheduled to begin on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the Freedom Fair festivities will end on the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution Sept. 17.
Speakers at the unveiling ceremony include U.S. Representative and GW alumnus Cliff Sterns (R-Fla.), GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and World Wrestling Entertainment star Maven, who is promoting the “Smack Down the Vote” program. “Smack Down the Vote,” which recruits people to register to vote, registered more than 1 million voters in the last election.
Freedom Fair festivities include an opportunity to sign a large-scale U.S. Constitution model, created by the Smithsonian National Constitution Center. Visitors can also receive wrestling celebrity autographs, register to vote, win prizes and discover D.C. community service opportunities.
The quilt will remain in storage for other Universities to display or use as a model for another quilt.
The Freedom Quilt Scholarship fund was established with leftover donations from this year. Beginning in 2003, the fund will allocate two scholarships in the amount of $911 to incoming freshmen committed to community service.
Mittleman said many volunteers are still needed to set up and take down the quilt daily and assist at the fair. A booth will be set up in Kogan Plaza Sept. 3- 5 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. to recruit volunteers.
The quilt will be on display beneath the Washington Monument until Sept. 15.