A political project by a Leavenworth resident has done what to some might seem all but impossible in the current political climate — attracting bipartisan support of governors, representatives, senators, even a couple of presidents and vice presidents.
A political project by a Leavenworth resident has done what to some might seem all but impossible in the current political climate — attracting bipartisan support of governors, representatives, senators, even a couple of presidents and vice presidents. Martha Jones was more than happy to unfurl Friday the result of two years of work — a quilt in bright red, white and blue, looking a bit like the Declaration of Independence because of the 24 patches adorned with signatures of some famous politicians. It's an idea that she said came from an earlier quilt she had read about in a magazine — one using quilt blocks with signatures from president Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, among others. “I thought if she could do it, I could do it,” she said. Jones said she has been a quilter for the past 20 years or so, ever since retiring from the McLouth School District. Until now, she said she quilted for family and friends, as well as producing quilts for soldiers stationed overseas. Before putting needle to material this time, however, Jones said she had to write — a lot. She said she first wanted to get signatures from every member of Congress. But at some point, she said she settled for as many as she could get from across the executive and legislative branches. “I didn't care if they were Democrats or Republicans,” she said. “I just wanted political leaders.” After writing and mailing the requests, each letter enclosed with a permanent marker and a quilt block, Jones said she waited. The first to be sent back was former President Bill Clinton. “I think that's the neatest one, because it was the first,” she said. “It was so exciting to get it back.” Soon after, others starting coming back, including current and former members of Kansas' federal delegation: U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, Sen. Pat Roberts, and former Sen. and presidential candidate Bob Dole. Former Gov. Mark Parkinson and current Gov. Sam Brownback also responded. “Some of them wrote notes with the block,” she said, saying she intends to keep all of the correspondence down to the envelopes they arrived in. But for as many politicians as are represented, Jones said there are many more that she requested but are missing. “I think for every 10 I sent, I probably got two back,” she said. Current President Barack Obama and former President Jimmy Carter both are among those who did not send their signatures back, but Jones said she doesn't hold a grudge. “He's pretty busy running the country,” she said of Obama, smiling. She did manage to get a signature from Vice President Joe Biden. Because of the number of requests still out there, Jones said she could see herself putting another quilt of signatures together. For now, though, she said she hopes this one becomes like the Lincoln quilt she had read about. “I'll pass it down to my children,” she said. “I could never use it or even wash it, I just want to keep it. Out of the quilts I've made, probably 300 or more, it's my favorite. It's history.”