Silver Springs woman participates in 9-11 quilt project

SILVER SPRINGS -- Thanks to a global volunteer effort, those who died in the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001 will be forever honored with an internationally constructed quilt project.

Joining in the memorial undertaking, Silver Springs resident Lee Blomquist is submitting handcrafted squares dedicated to two of the more than 3,000 victims of the plane crashes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

Each of her 18 1/2 inch by 18 1/2 inch blocks -- one of a bomb-sniffing Labrador retriever named Sirius, the other of Lt. Colonel Stephen Neil Hyland Jr. -- reflects a personal connection to the losses suffered.

Lee and husband Tom operate the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project, a non-profit animal rescue facility. Dogs hold a special place in her heart.

"One reason I decided to get involved was when they published a list of the victims, the only dog to die at the World Trade Center was not listed," she explained. "He died when the towers collapsed."

Port Authority Police Officer David Kim left his partner, Sirius, in the basement PAPD K-9 office when the first plane hit. Having no idea what had happened, Kim thought missiles had hit the building. He placed the dog in his dog crate and told him to stay while he investigated.

Kim was on the 44th floor when the second plane hit. He made it down to the fifth floor as the building collapsed around him, still not understanding what had happened. The stairway partially remained and Kim and those near him were rescued; however, after several futile attempts, he was unable to get back to the area where the dog was left.

Canine Sirius, PAPD No.17, was never found.

In choosing her second project, Blomquist wanted to honor a victim of the crash into the Pentagon. She was only six blocks away on Sept. 11.

"Because I was there, I felt I needed to do that. I looked for someone who was about my age and had been in the Army at the same time I was. I also worked at the Pentagon in the 1970s."

Hyland, 45, graduated from Notre Dame in 1977. He was chief of the Accessions and Strategies Branch of the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. Hyland had recently moved from temporary offices on the opposite side of the Pentagon while his regular office area, the side obliterated by the jetliner, underwent renovation.

His remains were laid to rest Nov. 8, 2001, in Arlington National Cemetery.

With the hope it will help each participant come to know the victim as a person, the United In Memory Victims Memorial Quilt Project was created by freelance graphic artist Corey Gammel and Peter Marquez, an operations manager for a moving and storage company. The project should be completed by August, with plans to display the quilt on Sept. 11, 2002.

Blomquist noted of her creative effort, "It was a very unique and comforting experience. With so many lives so tragically lost, perhaps this massive sewing project will help mend the wounds inflicted on this nation that day."


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