My sister friend, Pam, whose father was in WWII, as my parents were, told me about a sewing project to commemorate 70,273 mentally and physically disabled people who were murdered by the Nazis in what came to be known as the Aktion T4 program. The 70273 Project was founded by a quilting lady in North Carolina whose sister-in-law was brain damaged in a tragic accident as a child. Jeanne Hewell-Chambers saw a documentary on the Holocaust which briefly mentioned how prior to the mass murder of the Jews, disabled people were targeted for assessment by Nazi doctors. Their information was on a form which went through three doctors. If two of the three put a red X on the form, the person was executed.
This master quilter in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains thought, ‘Oh, my, that would have been Nancy. She is so precious to us, we love her so much and they would have killed her with no regard for the person she is.’ Jeanne saw in her mind pairs of red X’s on a white background. A little research led to the statistic that 70,273 people were murdered in this program. She then had an epiphany, a life mission to create quilts containing white blocks with pairs of red X’s to raise awareness of the value of the mentally and physical disabled. She set up standards and provided detailed instructions to maintain consistency. The project took off like proverbial gangbusters and people from all over the world, 143 different countries, volunteered to help.
Back in the day, I sewed. Heck, most of my clothes worn in school were homemade. My mom gave me a sewing machine in about 1984. I used it some, but it got stuck in the closet and moved several times. Upon becoming involved in the project, I started sewing again. I became an ambassador for the project, Pam and I created kits to give out for people to do blocks and mail in. I attended the Houston International Quilt Show as an ambassador and had an embroidered piece I made displayed in the project booth. The Project had 50 of the red X quilts in an exhibit there. Pam and I shipped off hundreds of pairs of X’s as well as several completed quilts and were thrilled to learn than in just shy of three years, the goal of 70,273 pairs of red X’s had been achieved.
Amazing. The result? I felt really good about the whole thing and I got interested in quilting. I made several cool quilts before my trusty old machine finally croaked, then got a new one for under $200, and embarked on a new, creative hobby. Oh, and is it also interesting that I cannot draw, paint, or do such type art, but I can put fabrics together to make art. That is good for the soul.