When someone celebrates a major milestone, it’s nice for a community to come together and recognize that accomplishment.
So that’s just what the community of Midland, Texas, did for one of its residents. World War II veteran Fred Neal had a birthday coming up, and his neighbors, family and strangers decided to show up and show they cared.
The vet’s 96th birthday was on April 1, so a drive-by parade was planned. First responders showed up with their vehicles, and a variety of motorcycles and military vehicles made it into the parade as well.
Well over 100 vehicles drove by with passengers wishing Neal a very happy 96th birthday, and he was quite overwhelmed by the show of support.
“Yeah they’re kind of overdoing it, I don’t deserve it,” Neal told KMID-TV, laughing.
“We have a World War II vet turning 96 today, here in Midland,” one attendee said. “I’m blown away — I’m blown away.”
“We’ve known him for several years and he’s just a really great person,” another participant said.
The well-wishing hasn’t stopped with those physically present, though — since the story was published, thousands more have added their own on social media.
“Happy Birthday Sir!” one person commented on WXIA-TV‘s share of the story. “We appreciate your heroic deeds for our country. Thank you! Stay healthy and blessed!”
“God bless you Mr. Neal on your 96th birthday,” another wrote. “Thank you for you service. It is because of men and women such as yourself that our nation continues to thrive.”
“Happy, Happy Birthday, Mr. Neal,” a third chimed in. “I hope you have a very special day. Thank you so much for serving our country. You are truly appreciated.”
The story has been reacted to over 34,000 times and shared over 1,000 times, illustrating just how thankful people are and how much the story touched their hearts.
Video of Neal shows him being surprised by the turnout the day of the parade, too.
“A great surprise!” he said. “I don’t know where all these people came from!
“It’s more than I could ever imagine.”
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