A World War II veteran in Texas who asked for 100 birthday cards for his 100th birthday got a huge surprise on Monday.
A few weeks ago, the staff at the Brookdale Senior Living facility in Watauga where James South lives posted a photo on Facebook of him holding a red sign asking people to send him birthday greetings.
“Hello! My name is James South. I am a proud WWII veteran! I will be turning 100 on October 7th, 2019. I would like to receive 100 birthday cards,” the sign read.
On Monday, he received more than 60,000 birthday cards and gifts that arrived at the facility from people as far away as Australia and India.
South was born into a family of sharecroppers in northeast Texas and joined the United States Army in 1940. He was deployed to Normandy, France, just seven days after the D-Day invasion, his son, Jim South, told CNN.
Since his retirement at age 65, South enjoys woodworking, tending his garden, playing golf, and going to church.
His son told reporters that he plans to celebrate his father’s big day by playing golf and eating chicken fried steak and catfish at his favorite restaurants.
“My dad taught me that a hug is better then a handshake,” he said. “And that money wasn’t the goal in life — it was happiness.”
On Monday, Eline de Bruijn, a digital producer at NBC DFW, posted photos to Twitter of South receiving congratulatory handshakes and holding one of his many special cards:
Happy 100th birthday, James South! He's a World War II veteran.
His birthday wish was 100 birthday cards.
— Eline de Bruijn (@debruijneline) October 7, 2019
On September 28, Breitbart News reported that South’s idea to ask for birthday cards stemmed from his time in the military when his girlfriend, who eventually became his wife, wrote him letters on a daily basis the entire time they were apart.
“It would give me a feeling that I am recognized for what I do, what I am,” the veteran said. “And I would cherish it forever.”
So far, South has received over 500 well wishes on the initial post, which has been shared 3,800 times.