A 104-year-old Marine Corps veteran who fought in Iwo Jima during World War II has been flooded with Valentine’s Day cards from people around the world.
Retired Maj. Bill White lives at The Oaks Assisted Living Center in Stockton, California.
The Purple Heart recipient says he enjoys scrapbooking these days, and after receiving a lifetime’s worth of valentines this year, he will have plenty of material to work with.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 15, 2020
According to Reuters, a fellow Oaks resident launched “Operation Valentine” on social media — a mission to collect 104 Valentines from friends and well-wishers in honor of White’s age and legacy.
The week before Valentine’s Day, White received approximately 70,000 pieces of mail, from every U.S. state and even several foreign countries.
As the holiday approached, the number continued to climb.
“The last account somebody ever gave me was 140,000 different pieces,” White told CBS News.
Many of the notes came from people in the military community expressing sentiment for their own loved ones who had served during World War II.
One writer, identified only as Jane, was reminded of her grandfather who also fought in WWII as she sent White’s note.
“I miss him so much. By sending you this card, I feel as though I am sending my grandfather a card,” Jane wrote, according to Reuters.
For the military man who notched 35 years of active service during his career, celebrating Valentine’s Day had never been a big deal to him, even when his wife of 42 years was still alive.
“It’s something I’ve never heard of or seen,” White said. “All of a sudden here, like a ton of bricks. I’m sort of speechless.”
White’s family started out opening and reading the Valentine’s Day greetings to the 104-year-old but had to ask volunteers for help as the mail continued to pile up at the living center.
“It’s just been beyond my feeble powers of comprehension,” White said.
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