Editor’s note: This story was published Sept. 11, 2007. 

WINSLOW — Susan Morissette of Winslow is bringing the Heart of America Quilt to Lower Manhattan today, even though she feels she may have a target on her back by doing so.

The mother of four who first pieced together panels for a small “get well” quilt from Maine two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, now says she and her organization are considered “B–list” targets for new terror attacks.

She is going to New York City anyhow.

A 17-foot-square section of the quilt will be on display today in the lobby of The New York Mercantile Exchange, a few blocks from what has become known as Ground Zero.

The exchange lost 32 of its members in the Sept. 11 attacks and Morissette said she will be there today — colors flying, no matter the “B-list” threat.

“One of the things they feel that terrorists attack are things that are at our heart and our core, ” Morissette, 37, said. “We take great pride in our flag. We take great pride in our brothers and our sisters, our fellow countrymen.

“The quilt is the symbol of the flag and the unity — if we can step back and remember how we’d all drive down the street and we were all one right after 9/11 — and we’re a symbol of that. Those things make us open as targets.”

The quilt, measuring half an acre in size and bearing signatures and artwork of children and adults from all 50 states and 14 foreign countries, has been requested for showings overseas, including in Kuwait, but the group’s security advisors have said “no, ” Morissette said.

But stateside, Morissette will take her chances.

The New York Mercantile Exchange this week is remembering its associates who were killed in the attacks with panels from the quilt begun by Morissette on a small side street in Winslow six years ago.

The panels are on display at the exchange through Wednesday.

The cloth panels, on a field of red, white and blue, bear the names of all 32 exchange members, according to Madeline Boyd, president of the NYMEX Charitable Foundation.

“We lost what we refer to as the NYMEX family, which was several members, clerks and staff as well as some former staff, ” Boyd said in a recent telephone interview. “We lost 32 people.”

Boyd said most of the associates who died in the attacks were attending a breakfast meeting that morning at the World Trade Center.

The quilt panels on display in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks were signed by exchange members in 2005, when Morissette brought panels from the Heart of America Quilt to New York City.

She said surviving exchange members heard of the Heart of America Quilt and contacted Morissette through the Web site.

The quilt was started by Morissette on Sept. 13, 2001, after trying to explain the attacks to her four young children. It was a means to healing, she said.

“After a couple of days watching the news, my second–to–oldest son Joshua asked me if monsters had done that, ” Morissette recalled.

“As an adult, I wanted to say yes, but looking at a 3–year–old child, I couldn’t.

“We told them that something bad had happened and that bad people did it.”

Morissette said she wanted to make “a little quilt” that the family could send to New York City as a message of healing from Maine.

The family quilt soon became a quilt from all the students at Mount Merici Catholic Elementary School in Waterville, where Morissette’s four children still attend classes.

“The idea was for them to sign the quilt or draw pictures to be a giant get–well card for New York, for everyone affected by 9/11, ” she said. “Over the years, it turned out it was for our whole country.

“We planned on it being a little quilt from the state of Maine in the shape of a United States flag and within two weeks I turned on the news to hear them describe it as a national project –– Heart of America Quilt –– and I sat back and went ‘Oh, my God, it is.’

“That was us.”

A website was established and the quilt since has included cloth panels with names and signatures from 14 foreign countries, including Iraq, France and India.

Each panel is 45 inches square. Most of the panels contain signatures and artwork by children and adults from all over the world, Morissette said.

The entire Heart of America Quilt now measures over a half–acre in size and has traveled to several locations around the country, including the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Morissette said she will be in attendance for the commemorative services today.

The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. is the world’s largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, according to its Web site.

Boyd said NYMEX is marking four separate moments of silence today: 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m., the impact times of each of the planes on the towers, and 9:59 a.m. and 10:29 a.m., the times the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed.

Boyd said the Heart of America Quilt panels will be displayed in the lobby of the exchange.

“The panels that we are getting are panels that our members signed in 2005, ” she said.

Boyd said she did not get to meet Morissette during her last visit in 2005, but that the Winslow woman’s reputation precedes her.

“I know that she is so passionate and has put so much of her own money and amazing amounts of time into this project.”

Morissette said over the past six years she had added advisors and volunteer staff from all over the country.

Michael Doyle, a recently retired master chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy and past Pacific Fleet Career Counselor, who lives in Hawaii, was instrumental in getting the Heart of America Quilt’s Web site in working order, according to Morissette.

He now serves as one of five members of the Heart of America Quilt Board of Directors.

Doyle said he first met Morissette at a conference with the Navy in Washington, D.C.

“She was having a directors’ meeting at the same location, ” Doyle recalled. “She told me about Heart of America Quilt and gave me one of her cards.

“I didn’t really understand the scope of the quilt until after I returned home and visited the Web site. I was impressed by the quilt and offered to update the Web site.”

Doyle described Morissette as a passionate patriot who has put her own time and effort into a project she believes in.

“Susan is an extremely dedicated woman who cares deeply about this country and the community, ” he said. “She has managed to create and show the Heart of America Quilt as a display of unity and a remembrance to those we have lost on an extremely limited budget.

“She is a true American Hero.”

Morissette said she continues to look for a place to store the many yards of panels and fabric that comprise the Heart of America Quilt.

In the meantime she said she still looks to one of her earliest supporters and sources of inspiration — Sue Cote, principal at the Mount Merici school — where Morissette is an education technician.

“Susan is a very caring person, ” Cote said.

“She has the interests of everyone at heart and provides her services in any way that they are needed.”

Cote said she remembers those first days after the attacks, when Morissette came into the school with her idea for a healing quilt from rural Maine.

“She brought in the panel and went to every classroom, ” Cote said. “She got student volunteers to put them together. Along the way, as the quilt grew in size she used our gym to compile the panels into the quilt where she had room to spread it all out — because it’s a very large quilt.”

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