Drones Quilt Project Memorializes Victims, Educates Public

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as “drones,” are responsible for the deaths of more than 2,400 people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an independent British non-profit organization. Use of Predator or Reaper drones, which carry 500-pound Hellfire missiles, started with President Bush in the “Global War on Terror.” They have been used with increased frequency by the Obama administration to assassinate people in direct violation of international law. Not only is the US murdering people in countries with which the US is not at war, the killing is being done by a civilian agency, the CIA, in complete secrecy with no virtually no accountability. It is difficult to know the precise number of deaths due to the remote locations of the strikes and the secrecy surrounding the program. The majority of victims have not been identified, but include hundreds of women and children.  

The Drones Quilt Project was created as a way to acknowledge the deaths caused by these drones, and to memorialize the victims. Participants in the Drones Quilt Project are asked to make a quilt block, containing the name of a drone victim.  Blocks are also made to remember the unidentified victims through the words “Unnamed Woman,” “Beloved Grandfather,” “Cherished Daughter,” or something similar. The blocks are then sewn together and made into a quilt. The quilts are one component of the Drones Quilt Project exhibit—the other two being large “information panels” which help educate the viewer, and a two-sided handout identifying many anti-drones resources as well as a list of 16 action ideas.

The Drones Quilt Project exhibit debuted at the Veterans For Peace convention in Madison, WI in August 2012 and has since traveled to Iowa, Oregon, Maine and Washington DC. In February it will travel to Vassar College, then Boston and Cleveland.

How WILPF members can help:

Four quilts have been completed so far, and the fifth is in the works, but many more blocks are needed to memorialize all of the victims. You need not have any sewing or quilting expertise to create a quilt block. The name may be embroidered, painted, written with a marker, glued buttons, or anything else you can think of. (You can see photos of all the completed blocks at the Drones Quilt Project website to get ideas.) Block making can be a great group project for adults and children. Some of the block makers have been very moved by the act of making a quilt block.

Here are the thoughts of one participant:

“For me, to work on this quilt square and think about one twelve-year-old boy’s life being suddenly taken from him and from his family and from this world, by a machine up in the sky, personalized the impact of the drones.   It could have been my son.   Joseph Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy, and a million is a statistic.”   To maintain our humanity, we need to remember that each victim of war was a real person, a beating heart, someone who laughed and loved and had dreams.  Working on this piece of fabric was a meditation in our shared humanity.”  –Laurie Childers, Corvallis, Oregon

Another way WILPF members can support the Drones Quilt Project is by hosting the exhibit in their towns. As more quilts are created, the exhibit will be able to be shown in more than one place simultaneously.  Eventually it is hoped that the exhibit will travel around the world, educating the public, raising awareness, and memorializing the victims, through the power of collective art.

Information about making a quilt block and hosting the exhibit is available on the Drones Quilt Project website, www.dronesquiltproject.wordpress.com or by contacting Leah Bolger, the Project Coordinator, directly: leahbolger@comcast.net. The Drones Quilt Project was featured on the cover of the latest Peace & Freedom magazine.

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