- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

A large and colorful patchwork was spread out on the Mall yesterday, a quilt whose panels represent some of the more than 3,000 people killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks each as individual as the person it represents.
Eighty hand-made panels stitched or designed by relatives or friends of victims were displayed as part of "An American Quilt" exhibition. The display was organized by Bill Bace, a New York entrepreneur who watched from his office as the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground nearly a year ago.
"I wanted to do something, and I remembered the AIDS Quilt and how so many of my friends are remembered," said Mr. Bace, 49, referring to the huge quilt that was stitched together to commemorate victims of the fatal disease. "And I remembered how helpful it was for the grieving families to work on the quilts."
The one-day exhibition drew family members, friends and hundreds of visitors to the Mall. Passersby stopped not only to glance at the pictures and depictions, but also to read about the varied lives of the people who were killed.
Theresa Homer Cooke traveled from Sterling, Va., to see the panel of her only brother, Leroy W. Homer Jr., the pilot who was killed aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pa.
Ms. Cooke said her family started designing her brother's panel in the spring. Its powder-blue background with billowy clouds holds eight pictures of the handsome husband and father who would have celebrated his 37th birthday on Aug. 27.
"My brother loved life, and he loved to fly," Ms. Cooke said.
"He got his first pilot license at age 16, and he worked two part-time jobs to pay for his lessons. He was accepted at West Point and at the Air Force Academy. He graduated [from the Air Force Academy] in the class of 1987. He spent eight years in the Air Force and then went to work for United Airlines. He served in Desert Storm and in Desert Shield," she said.
"It makes me feel good to see the quilt."
Ms. Cooke said her brother's widow, Melodie, recently established a foundation in his name. An event last weekend at the Philadelphia Museum of Art raised $25,000, which will be used for scholarships so that young people can learn to fly, she said.
While many visitors lingered near the panels to read and talk, others watched a 20-minute film titled "The Making of an American Quilt." Filmmaker Roz Sohnen was nearby to answer questions and talk about the short film that she hopes to make into a one-hour documentary about the 25 families who made quilts to remember their loved ones.
"What was so amazing [was that] people wanted to talk about their loved ones. They were eager. They talked about the choices they made for their panels in terms of the materials, the photographs and the items used to symbolize the person's life," Ms. Sohnen said.
"I think it was healing for them to talk and to make the panels. It helped them through their grief. Quilt-making is an American traditional craft; it's unique to America, and they're used for transitions in life weddings and births, the AIDS [quilt]. It's a collective communal experience that's part of the healing, too."
Not far away, Matilda Ceballos and her friend, Maria Martinez gazed down at the panel of Mrs. Ceballos' husband, Juan. The two women traveled from New York to see the quilt panel they worked on together for two weeks.
Mr. Ceballos, 47, a native of Chile, was killed while making a delivery to the World Trade Center. He was on the 83rd floor in the South Tower when the terrorists crashed a hijacked airliner into the building.
An array of family pictures was transposed onto his quilt panel, along with poems and excerpts from renowned Chilean authors. Mrs. Ceballos, 51, explained each of the items sewn onto the quilt.
"I put a guitar with musical notes on the quilt because he loved music. Here's a picture of Juan at his job. This one is when we got married in 1984," she said.
Other pictures showed family events: Halloween with their two children and their baby showers. The Chilean flag is prominently placed on the panel, along with a red cross.

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