When Maria Lane of Emporia heard that a Florida artist was looking for pictures and stories of fallen soldiers, she sent in a picture of her son.
David Lane always wanted to be a solder but was nearly deaf in his left ear, she said. A titanium implant at age 18 gave him just enough hearing to pass the Army physical. He was killed in Baghdad in September 2007.
"He was the driver of a Humvee," Maria Lane said. "There were five on the Humvee, and all but one was killed."
The artist was basing her Lost Heroes Art Quilt on pictures of fallen soldiers from all 50 states. But the artist told Maria Lane that another soldier had been selected to represent Kansas.
"Two weeks later they called back and said, 'We read his story and want him on the quilt,' " she said.
That's what prompted Lane to drive to Wichita on Friday to see the picture of her son as the quilt went on display at Century II.
The 15-foot-long quilt has 50 squares bearing childhood pictures of soldiers from each of the 50 states. Around the borders are pictures of 32 other soldiers, including three from Kansas — David Lane of Emporia, Jeremy Drexler of Topeka and Evan Parker of South Haven.
The artist, Julie Feingold, has said she used childhood pictures because many of the fallen heroes had dreamed of becoming soldiers when they were young. Karen Funcheon of Wichita, whose son Alex Funcheon represents Kansas in the main body of the quilt, arranged for the traveling display to stop in Wichita.
Although Century II will be closed for the weekend, she said, the quilt will be visible from outside.
After touring the country for the rest of the year, she said, the quilt will go on display in Washington, D.C.
"Once it's gone, you'll have to go to D.C. to see it," she said.
Among those visiting the quilt on Friday was Janet Marsh of Wichita, whose son, Chad Marsh, was killed Feb. 17, 2007, near Baghdad.
"I'm very impressed," she said. "Anything to keep their names going. This is something that people, unless they have a son or a daughter, kind of forget about."
Kathy Blake of Wichita, whose son Kevin Witte was killed in Baghdad in October 2006, agreed.
"What a wonderful tribute for them," she said. "I think it's totally awesome."