On Sunday, February 10, Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field Marine Reserve Center hosted a touching event to wish Marines, many of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, a happy Valentine’s Day. Gifts and handwritten cards were given to the honorees, from private citizens and veteran-friendly organizations.
Organized and put on by the United War Veterans Council and children from various New York City schools, the event is in its sixth year and was more successful than ever.
The event’s timing means a lot to the veterans, who spent their holidays overseas without their loved ones. “As a Vietnam veteran, I know from personal experience how important it is to know that the citizens of our great nation support you, especially on Valentine’s Day,” said Patrick Gualtieri, executive director of the United War Veterans Council.
The citizens who gave their time and gifts to the veterans, from children to coordinators of veterans’ aid organizations, were happy to help spread the message of “unconditional love.”
“It was a lot of fun and we can’t wait to tell everyone at school that we were able to do this,” stated Madison and Brielle Skibar, age 10. “We hope our friends will do the same one day, too.”
As the event progresses, the girls will likely get their wish: Each year, more and more gifts and cards are provided.
“There’s nothing better than knowing you have touched a hero’s heart and that they know they are appreciated,” explained Jessica Bryan, founder of Step Into Their Boots, who witnessed one Marine tear up at the handwritten card a child handed to her. “It was an even bigger gift for me to witness that special moment.”