Not long after her son was killed in Iraq, Karen Funcheon learned of a Florida artist who was looking for photographs of fallen soldiers.
The artist, who was planning a quilt to honor soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, was asking for pictures of the soldiers when they were children.
That's how Alex Funcheon's fifth-grade picture from his days at Bostic Traditional Magnet Elementary ended up on a quilt that has been touring the country since 2009.
Thanks to the persistence of Karen Funcheon, the Lost Heroes Art Quilt will stop in Wichita next month before going on permanent display in Washington, D.C., later this year.
The quilt will be in the foyer of Century II from June 17 through June 22. When Century II is closed for the weekend, the quilt will be visible from outside.
The 15-foot-long quilt has 50 squares bearing pictures of soldiers from each of the 50 states. Around the borders are pictures of 32 other soldiers, including three from Kansas — Jeremy Drexler of Topeka, David Lane of Emporia and Evan Parker of South Haven.
Funcheon said she met the artist, Julie Feingold, when she first saw the quilt in Washington, D.C. Since then, she said, she's been trying to bring it to Wichita.
"I just kept bugging them," she said. "I said, 'We've got four soldiers on there; we need to have it in Kansas.' "
Feingold has said she used childhood pictures because many of the fallen heroes had dreamed of becoming soldiers when they were young.
Funcheon said that was the case with her son Alex.
"When we have these little boy and girls, we don't expect them to grow up and join the Army and get killed," she said.