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The World's Oldest Living Marine Receives 70,000 Valentines. You're Not Crying, I'M Crying

Source - 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 year like never before, surrounded by a mountain of 70,000 love letters and well-wishes sent from all over the world.   

The cards and notes to “Major Bill,” a retired major who lives in an assisted living facility in Stockton, California, began pouring in after a fellow resident launched a social media campaign called “Operation Valentine,” asking friends and strangers alike to send greetings to honor White.  

At the outset, the goal was a modest 100 cards - about one for every one of White’s birthdays - but the response has outstripped all expectations.   

“It’s just too fantastic,” said White, surrounded by waist-high stacks of postal boxes filled with cards. 

On a recent day, White’s great-granddaughter Abigail Sawyer, 9, delivered a bundle of cards from her fourth grade class, many of them decorated with the American flag. ...

So much mail has been delivered that White’s family has had to enlist volunteers to help open the cards and read the warm wishes to White, who retired after 35 years of active service, including time in the Pacific theater of WWII, when he was wounded at Iwo Jima.  

For those sending Valentines, White represents something bigger than himself. Many of them have conveyed a deep appreciation not only to White for his service, but to all veterans who died too soon to hear their gratitude.  

Every so often you need - not just want, but need - to have your faith in humanity restored. Just in order to function as a human being as we travel through this vale of tears, you need to be reminded that for all the vile, selfish, loathsome, sadistic imbeciles we hear about every day, good people still have them outnumbered. By a wide margin. This is just such a faith-restoring reminder.

By way of history, that battle where Major Bill White earned his Purple Heart began 75 years ago next Wednesday. That would've made him 29 when he hit the beaches of the place the Japanese called "Sulphur Island" and war correspondent Robert Sherrod called "a nightmare in hell." In his book, "The Battle for Iwo Jima," Robert Leckie (the main character in HBO's "The Pacific" who was played by James Badge Dale described it this way:

At first it came as a ragged rattle of machine-gun bullets, growing gradually lower and fiercer until at last all the pent-up fury of a hundred hurricanes seemed to be breaking upon the heads of the Americans. Shells screeched and crashed, every hummock spat automatic fire and the very soft soil underfoot erupted underfoot with hundreds of exploding land mines ... Marines walking erect crumpled and fell. Concussion lifted them and slammed them down, or tore them apart.

The battle raged on like that for five weeks, as US forces had to drive the Japanese out of the 16 miles of tunnels they were holed up in. Major White was just one of the more than 19,000 Marines wounded. More than 6,800 gave their lives. 

Now imagine if you were 29-year-old Major Bill White, moving forward through that black sand inferno with death and horror all around you, not knowing if every breath would be your last. Now imagine someone told you that you would not only life to see age 104 and be surrounded by great-grandchildren to love, but that in 2020 70,000 strangers would reach out to let you know they're thinking about you. That there would be a way to instantly communicate around the globe, and that people from all over would extend a kindness to you because they appreciate your sacrifice and the ultimate sacrifices made by your brothers. That 70,000 people you've never met and who will never meet you took time out of their lives in order to put a smile on the face of a 104-year-old and make his family happy. Because in his younger days, he did nothing less than save the world. 

Here's your reminder that people are good. And that the human race, for all our faults, are capable of producing people like United States Marine Major Bill White. 

Pure goodness is possible. Happy Valentine's Day. God bless.