The Septermber 11th attack
Kane'ohe woman sews tribute to victims
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau
KANE'OHE The messages on five-inch-square pieces of cloth are from strangers but the words are familiar: "God bless America," "we care," "our prayers are with you," "aloha from Hawai'i."
"We might not be there financially but we want them to know we're there physically," said Pam Mercado, who sewed the king-size quilt in memory of the victims of the attacks.
Sewn together in two weeks, the brightly colored, 8 1/2-foot-square quilt covers just about the entire living room floor at Mercado's apartment at Kulana Nani, a subsidized housing complex on Kahuhipa Street.
On the top border of the quilt, written in blue pen, is "God Bless America." On the bottom is "Aloha From Hawai'i," and the sides are decorated with a row of hand-drawn stars and the initials U.S.A. At each corner are angels.
Mercado invited neighbors, friends, family and teachers and students at He'eia Elementary School to write their messages. About 100 people responded, signing the white print with blue ink.
"I wanted everyone to sign it because a lot of people want to help but cannot," Mercado said. "So this is our way of showing we're there."
Shocked by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that left the 42-year-old mother of four crying and depressed, Mercado decided she wanted to do something. Unable to work because of injuries from an automobile accident, she couldn't afford to donate money. But she could sew, and the project helped bring healing into her life, she said.
"It helped me find some kind of peace," Mercado said, adding that the people who signed were grateful for the opportunity to express their thoughts, a reaction she didn't expect.
The project cost more than $50. Mercado said she borrowed some of it from her mother, and she and her family willingly paid the remainder.
"It's OK, we would give it up for" victims' families, she said.
Sewing late into the night, Mercado finished the quilt, only the second she has ever made, in two weeks. Her first quilt took two years. Because of the injuries, she could sit for only 20 minutes at a time to sew, sometimes staying up until 3 in the morning.
Her husband, Ernest Mercado Jr., said he was confident his wife would finish the project.
"She put a lot of work into it, a lot of love into it," he said.
Now she plans to send the quilt to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, asking him to put it on display, perhaps at the World Trade Center site.
Russel Butac, who works at Fabric Mart in Kane'ohe where Mercado purchased material for the quilt, said all the employees were impressed with the project. Mercado came several times for material, which they held in the back to make sure she was able to finish using the same print. The workers were happy to sign, said Butac, who is from the Philippines.
"She has a good heart," he said, adding that he hoped his message would help the people recover. "We told them that we care for them and love them."
Reach Eloise Aguiar at email@example.com or 234-5266.