It’s a classic story of serendipity. And the act of kindness.
World War II (WWII) veteran Frank Grasberger, 95, served in the Battle of the Bulge and had survived three heart attacks. In 2009 during an honorary flight to Washington, he received a letter from a third-grader. After reading the letter, Frank said he ‘had a breakdown. I went through a box of Kleenex.” Since that moment, all he wanted was to meet the young girl behind the note.
Meanwhile, DeShauna Priest, then 9 years old, said she admired people in uniform because of their sacrifices and services for the United States. Her chance to show her gratitude came when, as a school assignment, she sent a Thank-You letter to a WWII vet.
Her simple letter reads: “Dear WWII vet. If it wasn’t for you, we would never have freedom. I’m so happy you made sacrifices. Your friend, DeShaina Priest.” From the reader’s vantage point, it was a random letter for any WWII veteran.
But then, the letter was fated for Frank who treated it as a godsend treasure. He became deeply attached to it and told Delores, his wife, that he wished to meet the girl before he dies. From that moment on, he keeps the letter close to him, even literally sits on it.
When asked why the letter was so important to him, Frank said, ‘because it is something, that somebody thought of me that much.” He considered the simple note as a token of a well-served life.
Vitalia senior residences staff took charge of Frank and DeShauna’s meeting
After knowing the story of Frank’s fondness to the letter, Jill Pawlowski, Vitalia Senior Residences Services Director, contacted DeShauna through social media with the hope of a meet-up between the two.
DeShauna, now 21 and a member of the Army National Guard Reserve, responded after four days and was too eager to meet Frank.
The first-ever meeting, 12 years after Frank received DeShauna’s letter, took place in Vitalia’s conference room. Frank, with Delores and daughter Bounty finally met DeShauna who was garbed in an army uniform. All of them welled up in tears.
It was a touching scene. Frank and DeShauna seemed so connected though it was their first time to see each other. DeShauna handed the red flowers to Frank. Frank brought out DeShauna’s letter, which the latter reciprocated by taking out from her bag Frank’s reply letter to her back in the day.
DeShauna admitted she was oblivious of the reply letter. It was her mother who kept it as a memento of her childhood.
‘You can imagine the feeling I had when she stood next to me. It just took my breath away. It really did,” Frank said.
For DeShauna, “this is the beginning of friendship, and family. But more of family.”
Frank is so grateful to the Vitalia staff, “for doing this (meeting). They never said a word when she was contacted. So, when she came to the room, I was really surprised. It was a miracle to me,” he said.
CBN News quoted Frank saying, “There’s love there, deep down in the heart. She’s like my third daughter, she really is.”