I have come up with a good alternative name for my previously-named “No More Names” quilt. I am thinking of calling it simply “Victims.” I decided that I don’t need to make the overt statement about the purpose of the quilt by calling it “No More Names.” Instead, I can let the victims speak for themselves through their presence in the quilt. That is really my purpose after all.
I don’t know what to say about these blocks. How can I not be incredibly affected by these? These blocks represent the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, CT, which occurred in 2012, when my daughter was six months old. She shares a name with one of the young victims. Even so many years later, I cannot make any sense of this massacre and feel just raw emotion when I think of it.
I’m back hard at work on my No More Names Quilt blocks. (By the way, I would like to rename this quilt and am taking suggestions. I searched the tag #NoMoreNames on Instagram and found that it is already being used to refer to violence against African-Americans. They have my full support and I don’t want to co-opt the tag for my project. So, if you have thoughts about a name for this quilt, I’m taking suggestions.)
This week, I’ve worked on the blocks for the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard shooting in 2013. As I sewed these, I thought about the recent blocks I made for the Fort Hood shooting and how, at least for the shootings I am covering, military bases and schools reappear. I think that we should all feel safe wherever we are in the U.S. (and that is part of the reason for this project), but shouldn’t military bases and schools be some of the safest places?
I have finished another group of blocks for my “No More Names” mass shooting quilt. These are the victims of a shooting in 2009, in Binghamton, New York. Working on these blocks saddened me because I realized that I had forgotten completely about this shooting, which is exactly the point of the quilt. Horrible events like this one occurs, we hear about it for a few days, and then it disappears from our consciousness until another one happens (all too frequently) and we are yet again reminded of the string of shootings in this country. I am hoping that this cycle will end.
These blocks were so hard for me to work on. I’m a native Virginian and though I went to another of Virginia’s fine universities, two of my aunts, two of my uncles, my first cousin and my sister are all Hokies. This attack felt pretty close to home and even still affects my sister.
In addition to being so personal for me, the Virginia Tech shooting had so many victims. Many of the other shootings had victim counts in the teens, but 32 people, most of whom were college students, died that day in Blacksburg (and another 17 were wounded). I really feel how great that loss is when I see the stack of blocks going through my sewing machine, name after name.