Honoring veterans can come in many styles, but when a group comes together and uses its collective talent to craft something specific, the gift becomes special.
Pacific Northwest Wood Artisans, a woodcarving club in Sequim, has made 20 wooden bald eagle heads for canes for wounded vets.
Club president Gordon Day crafted an entire cane for a
former colleague's son, Alan Babin Jr.
Pfc. Babin joined the Army after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He was determined to become a medic, and on March 3, 2003, was on assignment in Iraq. After three days in the country, he was wounded when he ran into small arms fire to save a downed serviceman.
For his actions, Babin later was awarded the Bronze Star with V-device and the Purple Heart.
He sustained extensive internal and external injuries, and is recovering in Texas.
"He cannot walk now," Day said, "but he hopes to eventually.
"They are working on it."
Day began woodcarving when he moved to Sequim in 1994. He used to take months on an individual project, but now it takes him about three weeks.
"I carve every day and now I'm fairly fast, but I took my time with these eagle heads," he said.
Day used purpleheart wood from Central and South America for the cane and he carved a Purple Heart medal into the staff for Babin.
The following is an excerpt from the letter Day sent to Babin about the carving.
"The eagle head represents the strength of our country; it is carved from basswood.
"The shaft of the walking stick is made of maple from our property here in WA. The feathers carved on the shaft represent the eagle wing; the feathers that are at the top are the flight feathers which allow the eagle to reach the highest goal it wishes.
"The other feathers down the shaft are of the wing which gives the eagle stability and keeps him true on course."
The finished eagle heads now are in Bremerton with a carving club there waiting to be connected to customized staffs.
"We really tried to make them look best and try different techniques to make them fit the hand better," said Don Taylor, a Pacific Northwest Wood Artisans member.
"Everyone was excited and inspired to make more," added Ann Grover, another member.
"We plan to do more of these for the veterans in the future."
"We want to let them know we appreciate what they do even if they don't end up using the canes," Day said.
Day was in the Army National Guard for 61/2 years and retired as a staff sergeant.
Pacific Northwest Wood Artisans meets from 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays at Day's home. He can be reached at 683-7032 or by going online to www.woodartisans.net. The group is open to new members.
Matthew Nash can be reached at mnash@sequim gazette.com.
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