STOCKTON, Calif. (Reuters) – William White, a 104-year-old U.S. Marine veteran who earned a Purple Heart in World War Two, is celebrating Valentine’s Day this 12 months like by no means earlier than, surrounded by a mountain of 70,000 love letters and well-wishes sent from everywhere in the world.
Abigail Sawyer, 9-year-old nice granddaughter of Major Bill White, a 104-year-old Marine veteran who fought and was injured in the World War Two battle for Iwo Jima, reads Valentine’s Day playing cards sent to Major White in Stockton, California, U.S. January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Kate Munsch
The playing cards and notes to “Major Bill,” a retired main who lives in an assisted dwelling facility in Stockton, California, started pouring in after a fellow resident launched a social media marketing campaign referred to as “Operation Valentine,” asking associates and strangers alike to ship greetings to honor White.
At the outset, the aim was a modest 100 playing cards – about one for each certainly one of White’s birthdays – however the response has outstripped all expectations.
“It’s just too fantastic,” stated White, surrounded by waist-high stacks of postal packing containers stuffed with playing cards.
On a current day, White’s great-granddaughter Abigail Sawyer, 9, delivered a bundle of playing cards from her fourth grade class, lots of them adorned with the American flag.
Per week earlier than Valentine’s Day, which lands on Friday this 12 months, at the least 70,000 items of correspondence had arrived from individuals in each U.S. state and several other international international locations.
So a lot mail has been delivered that White’s household has had to enlist volunteers to assist open the playing cards and browse the nice and cozy needs to White, who retired after 35 years of energetic service, together with time in the Pacific theater of WWII, when he was wounded at Iwo Jima.
For these sending Valentines, White represents one thing larger than himself. Many of them have conveyed a deep appreciation not solely to White for his service, however to all veterans who died too quickly to hear their gratitude.
A lady recognized solely as Jane informed White that her late grandfather additionally fought in World War Two as a U.S. Army paratrooper. Had he lived, she stated, he could be turning 100 years outdated this 12 months.
“I miss him so much,” she wrote. “By sending you this card, I feel as though I am sending my grandfather a card.”
It’s all new to White, who stated he by no means actually celebrated Valentine’s Day, even when his spouse of 42 years was alive.
“It’s something I’ve never heard of or seen,” White stated. “All of a sudden here, like a ton of bricks. I’m sort of speechless.”
Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty and Chizu Nomiyama
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