MURRAY — On the surface, it seems like a simple thing. 

Tuesday afternoon, the work of the more than 100 members of the Quilt Lovers of Murray group was handed over to a faction of people the Quilt Lovers just started serving in the past few years, local veterans. This time, it was veterans at Hickory Woods Senior Living Community in Murray that were the recipients with nine residents receiving quilts. 

However, the true essence of this presentation is how the quilts, all specially designed with red, white and blue patriotic patterns, are received. As has been the case since this started, emotions ran high. 

It was especially true with Navy veteran John Bunnell. 

“Oh, look at that! I’m going to use that tonight,” the three-year veteran of the Navy said as the coordinator for the Quilt Lovers’ veterans program, Amy Doyle, sent her daughter, Sarah, to present Bunnell with his quilt, mainly blue with red trim on the back and consisting of numerous red, white and blue check patterns on the front. Then the emotion hit and tears of appreciation filled Bunnell’s eyes.

“Thank you!” he said, struggling to get the words out.

Eugene Waggoner, who along with fellow Hickory Woods resident John Resig, served in World War II with the Navy, said the positive reactions of the veterans has to do with one thing — recognition by others for what they did so long ago.

“You have no idea how much we appreciate this,” said Waggoner, who was an officer on a Navy LST ship dropping troops off in the English Channel to participate in the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944, that helped turn the tide in the Allies quest to defeat the Axis in Europe. “They mean an awful lot to us.”

Hickory Woods Activities Director Jenise Howard said it is always a pleasure to watch the veterans of the facility be honored.

“Most of the men we have here, 90 percent of them I’d say, served in the armed forces. We have the freedom we have today because of their service,” Howard said, then directing a playful joke in the direction of the honorees. “You guys keep telling me that I’m freezing you (with the air conditioning system of the facility). Now you have no reason not to stay warm.”

Roaring laughter rippled through the activities room, where a decent crowd had gathered to watch.

Veterans receiving quilts Tuesday were: Marine Corps veteran Harvey Hurd, Army veterans Jack Brown, Joe Wilson and Dan Taylor, Navy veterans Waggoner, Resig, Bunnell and Bobby O’Hara and one last Army veteran, Gene McDougal, who also served in the National Guard. 

Tuesday also happened to be McDougal’s 83rd birthday. 

Everything involved with Tuesday’s ceremony seemed to leave Amy quite pleased. 

“I just enjoy seeing the smiles on the veterans’ faces when we do this,” she said, adding that the Quilt Lovers also design works for such organizations as Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, the LifeHouse Care Center in Murray, CASA by the Lakes in Marshall and Calloway counties, as well as comforters for kidney dialysis patients in the Murray-Calloway County area. 

“I did not have veterans in my family, but that is one of the groups we like to honor and, when (Quilt Lovers officials) asked me if I’d like to lead this part of what we do, I said that I’d love to it, and it’s been great watching Sarah be involved today too.”

One veteran had a special appreciation for his gift.

“My wife (Margaret) was a quilter,” Hurd said, admiring the colorful work he had been given, featuring an American bald eagle against a background of fireworks. “That took some work. And having watched her, I know how much work you put into that. That’s beautiful.

“Thank you.”