Thousands Help D-DAY Vet Celebrate 105th Birthday
LAKEWOOD, CA — When his 105th birthday bash was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, World War II veteran and retired teacher Lt. Col. Sam Sachs thought he’d have to settle for some birthday cards instead. He had no idea what he was in for.
After putting out a call for cards, he received an avalanche of birthday cards Sunday from strangers and friends alike, including a birthday card from President Donald Trump. But that was just the beginning.
A surprise caravan Sunday of military and classic cars passed by the Lakewood retirement home where he lives to pay tribute to Sachs. And on Friday, a dozen members of the Army National Guard left a framed flag with a plaque on his doorstep that lauds Sachs as a “true American hero” whose service would never be forgotten. Sachs was a paratrooper who landed in Normandy on D-Day, and who went on to become a teacher after completing his military service.
“I am in heaven today. Today was a magical day beyond compare,” Sachs told City News Service, noting that he had also received birthday gifts from people he didn’t even know.
The military veteran said the response has been “really touching,” explaining that one man who heard a news story about him on television dropped by to give him $50.
“Of course, it’s exciting to get cards from all over the country,” he said. “It’s just been a magnificent ride for me.”
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The letter from the president was a highlight for the centenarian. It included a photo signed by Trump, cited the “tremendous milestone” and thanks Lt. Col. Sam Sachs for his “dedicated service to our country during World War II.”
The military veteran dressed up in his Army uniform for a video posted earlier this month on YouTube that was titled “Sam Sachs 105 BDAY Wish,” in which he wondered aloud how many cards he would receive.
The city’s mayor, Todd Rogers, also called on the public on April 10 to send birthday cards to Sachs.
The public responded in a big way.
The letter from the president is among an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 greetings that have been received from throughout the United States since news spread of Sachs’ YouTube video. In it, the onetime U.S. Army paratrooper requested birthday cards after realizing that he wouldn’t be able to have the big birthday celebration that had been planned, according to Ivonne Meader, who owns the senior living home where the centenarian resides. Meader also hired a clown came by to perform a show for him.
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She said the cards have been temporarily set aside when they arrive as a precaution during the coronavirus crisis.
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“He’s being overwhelmed in a good way right now,” Meader said, noting that at least 50 percent of the cards Sachs has received are homemade — many of them made by children. “Every day (it) just multiplies more.”
By TERRI VERMEULEN KEITH, City News Service; Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.