If vintage military tents could talk, what stories could they tell? They’d surely speak of courage, patriotism, brotherhood, sisterhood, loneliness, suffering, loss, sacrifice, honor, love and even humor. We all know tents can’t talk, but they do inspire stories. Ask Cordie Everman, founder of American Past Tents. She recycles vintage military tents into fun and useful products, designed to inspire stories about our troops, to honor military service, and to comfort hurting families left behind.
American Past Tents Beginnings
Ten years ago, Everman wanted to make pet beds. She discovered military pup tents were a perfect medium for making washable, mildew-proof, water-resistant, and virtually indestructible beds. She bought military tents and took them home. She had no idea they were about to change her life.
When opening the tents, she sometimes found a soldier’s name written inside. Running her finger across the name caused her to think about the soldier and the sacrifices military troops make every day. She developed an intense desire to express her gratitude to veterans, active-duty troops and their families. From there, American Past Tents was born.
Everman’s creative intuitiveness led her to design many different products made from vintage tent, including patch purses, grill aprons, toys (Everman’s teddy bear is a touching gift for a family member of a deployed soldier), grocery bags, and items for the home. To view Everman’s products, click here.
Everman doesn’t like to waste even a bit of tent because “every bit is a piece of history and posterity.” To solve that problem, she designed a simple key chain made from scraps. It’s a round circle attached to a key ring and appliqued with military insignia. She says the key chains are very popular.
American Past Tents Hits the Road
Everman and her husband created a website for American Past Tents and decided to take their products to fairs, festivals and shows. According to her, she never has a bad show. “Even if I don’t sell much,” Everman said, “I always meet wonderful people that God sends to me. I listen to military family members’ stories and often pray with them for their soldiers.”
Last year, Everman saw a news report on TV about a marine brought home critically injured. His wife, who was 8-months pregnant, had to make the decision to discontinue life-support. Touched by the story, Everman wanted to do something for the wife. She said a prayer, but then got busy and didn’t contact her.
Four-months later, at a show, Everman met a woman who was looking for something specifically for Marines. While Everman showcased her products, the woman told the story of her niece, a Marine widow and the mother of a new baby boy. Everman realized the niece had been on the news report.
Everman did what she knew God wanted her to do. She gathered several products, as a love offering, in support of the mother and baby. “God always makes a way,” Everman told me. “There are so many stories. I know that I know this is where God wants me to be. I love being God’s instrument.”
American Past Tents Prayer Chapel
A year ago, the Everman’s started a “Prayer Chapel” at the American Past Tents website. They collect names of active duty soldiers and the country where they’re serving. They list the names on the website chapel and ask anyone, who will, to pray on behalf of our troops and their families.
American Past Tents Send Stockings to Afghanistan
Last year, American Past Tents sent Christmas stockings to Afghanistan. They’re sending 200 stockings this year. The stockings are made from tent and are stuffed with things the soldiers need and want: water guns, hard candy, balls, spiral notebooks, pens, mouthwash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, stationery, and candy. The soldiers love candy and so do the children they treat with it. The contents of the stockings are donated. Donations are still needed. Click here if you’d like contact information. Ship date for the stockings is 05 Nov.
American Past Tents products are designed in honor and remembrance of the sacrifices made by past and present American troops. American Past Tents shows provide a place where the Evermans express gratitude to veterans and active-duty troops, where people share stories, where prayers are said for loved ones, and where all celebrate military heroes. Though the products are for sale, American Past Tents is much more than a business. It’s a calling from God, whispered through military tents and the stories they hold.
Interview, Cordie Everman, 9/20/2011
http://www.army-surplus.com, Thank you, Andy VanderWall, for permission to use your military tent photo