WEB EXCLUSIVE: Freedom Quilt highlights Freedom Fair

The Freedom Quilt may be in storage for now, but student co-chairs Taryn Schaberg and Ari Mittleman say their work on the project is far from over. The quilt, taken down a day early because of rain, was on display on the National Mall last week as part of National Civic Participation Week.

“The week went really well,” Mittleman said. “We got people from all across the country who kept saying they wanted to be in D.C. this week as a way to give back.”

National Civic Participation Week was held in 21 states beginning Sept. 12. D.C.’s celebration included the Freedom Fair, which the quilt unveiling kicked off last Tuesday. Student groups and incoming freshmen at Colonial Inauguration decorated the 91-by-48-foot quilt. Its 3-by-3-foot red, white and blue panels are sewn together to resemble an American flag.

Schaberg and Mittleman were honored Saturday at a Participate America gala with an award for student leadership and commitment to civic participation, presented by Miss Virginia 2002 Jennifer Pitts.

“It was a real opportunity to look back and celebrate everything that happened this past week and month,” Mittleman said.

Mittleman said many people took advantage of the opportunity to decorate the Freedom Quilt during the fair, despite problems with wind that Mittleman said damaged the quilt.

He said organizers hope to display the quilt again at GW and other universities or high schools. CSPAN hosted a discussion of civic participation with Schaberg and Mittleman for area high school students after the fair Thursday, which Mittleman said he hopes other schools will mimic and possibly use to display the Freedom Quilt.

“The quilt is ready to go on display again if need be,” he said. “It needs some doctoring up, but the possibility for expansion is definitely out there.”

Mittleman and Schaberg hope to host their honorary chair, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D- La.) at the University Club or another “fancy” location before the end of the fall semester to thank her for her support of the project. Mittleman and Schaberg began the quilt after hearing Landrieu speak on displaying patriotic pride following September 11.

Organizers are still working to finalize a Freedom Quilt scholarship fund, which will allocate two scholarships in the amount of $911 beginning in 2003 to incoming freshmen committed to community service.

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