GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Veterans Day this year brought an unexpected gift to WATE’s Don Dare, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

As he was emceeing the Veterans Day ceremonies in Gatlinburg on November 11, he was astonished when he was presented with the Quilt of Valor by Wanda Tippie of the Quilt of Valor Sevier County.

I was honored to help surprise Dare at the ceremonies after following the quilting process for months in anticipation of this day.

Our nation’s symbol soaring over a colorful mountain scene is the center of the Quilt of Valor design chosen by a talented group that had long wanted to do something special for Don Dare.

“Every year, I’m at the Veterans Ceremony participating and he’s always there, and I asked him one year if he had a quilt of valor and he said that no, he said there’s others much more deserving and I thought you know what? He deserves it too,” said Tippie.

Dare served our country during the Vietnam War, voluntarily joining the Army, was selected for officer training school and earned the Bronze Star for good service.

On Saturday, August 19, the Smoky Mountain Patriotic Quilters got together to start working on Dare’s quilt. By September 6, surrounded by the picturesque scenery at a home in the mountains, the group gathered around a table, cutting, and discussing one of the tougher tasks: part of the border contains patriotic words, perfect for Don Dare, the journalist.

“The words go into the stars that are in the corner so we had to adjust quite a bit to fit the words into those stars,” said quilter Polly Gillespie.

Each quilter is responsible for a section and will put together their individual pieces at home. They had a 10-day deadline to finish their work. But, right on time, the pieces were back and being put together.

Quilter Sarah Ussery then put the binding on the quilt, and a label was sewn on, bearing the names of those who took part: Sarah Ussery, Mary Greengold, Jean Tarpley, Wanda Tippie, and Polly Gillespie.

We say thank you for dedicating the past three months in the creation of this Quilt of Valor for our own veteran, the man always on your side, Don Dare.