A World War II veteran who appealed to the public for birthday cards after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of his 105th birthday celebration received an eagerly awaited letter Friday from President Donald Trump.
The letter -- which includes a photo signed by Trump -- cites the "tremendous milestone" and thanks Lt. Col. Sam Sachs, whose birthday is Sunday, for his "dedicated service to our country during World War II."
"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.
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Also Friday, about 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, and a clown came by to perform a show for him, according to Ivonne Meader, who owns the senior living home where the centenarian resides in Lakewood.
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 which 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, Meader said.
"He's being overwhelmed in a good way right now," Meader said, noting that at least 50% of the cards Sachs has received are homemade -- many of them made by children. "Every day (it) just multiplies more."
She said the cards have been temporarily set aside when they arrive as a precaution during the coronavirus crisis.
While he's not going to have the big birthday celebration that had been planned, a surprise caravan of military and classic cars is expected to pass by the home Sunday to pay tribute to Sachs, who went on to become a teacher after completing his military service.
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."