NEW ORLEANS – In October of 2006, The National World War II Museum in New Orleans introduced a national, grass-roots program to produce hand-knit scarves for WWII veterans in appreciation of their service to our country. Since then, the Museum has received an overwhelming response of over 600 hand knitted and crocheted scarves from 38 different states. The scarves have been distributed to V.A. Hospitals and other Veteran’s organizations as far away as Hawaii. The program was originally scheduled to end in winter 2007, but with scarves still coming in at rapid rates, the Museum has committed to continuing the distribution.
The National WWII Museum’s knitting project was conceived and organized by Lauren Handley, an Education Programs Coordinator. When Handley began the project her goal was to receive only 30 scarves at best. However, the project gathered steam as knitters passed the information along through club meetings, newsletters, blogs, emails and other channels of communication
On the Home Front during World War II, knitting was a national endeavor. Women, men and even school-age children were eager to “knit their bit” to support the war effort and provide needed garments for the troops. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was frequently photographed knitting and, in 1941, she boosted national participation by hosting a “Knit for Defense” tea at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Time magazine wrote, “The men hardly have time to grab their guns before their wives and sweethearts grab their needles and yarn.” Later that same year, the popular weekly magazine Life featured a cover story on knitting along with instructions and a pattern for a knit vest. In 1942, the American Red Cross was designated by the War Production board as the clearing agency for all knitting projects and provided patterns for socks, sweaters, mufflers, fingerless mitts, knit watch caps and helmets. Even cotton stretch bandages were hand-knit in vast quantities.
The pattern can be downloaded free from the Museum’s website, www.nationalww2museum.org/education/knitting.html or may be requested by calling Maggie Hartley at 504-528-1944, ext. 484 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A New Orleans needlework shop, The Quarter Stitch, has packaged a kit including yarns and needles which may be ordered by phone at 504-522-4451.
The National World War II Museum was dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and recently has been designated by Congress as the country’s official National World War II Museum. The Museum illuminates the American experience during the war era and celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who won World War II. The National WWII Museum recently completed the first phase of a $300 million expansion that, when complete, will create a six-acre campus of exhibition pavilions, an advanced format 4-D theater, USO venue, and a research and conference center in downtown New Orleans. For more information about The National World War II Museum, call 504-528-1944 or visit online at www.nationalww2museum.org.