What's the best way to celebrate the birthday of a 100-year-old World War II veteran? With cake -- and about 500 birthday cards and presents from around the world, of course.
That's exactly the kind of celebration Military.com readers gave to former Army nurse Charlotte Schwid, who turned 100 on May 22. Friends and family threw a birthday party for her at Eagle River VFW Post 9785 in Alaska. And after Military.com published an article asking for your participation, you shipped in cards and packages as a surprise.
Khampheng Scott, an Air Force veteran who helped organize the shindig and opened a P.O. Box to receive the mail, said Schwid was surprised by the outpouring of love and support from both friends in the state and strangers from across the globe.
"She said, 'For me? I don't know these people,'" Scott said. "She smiled the whole entire time, and she loves the attention. ... She said it was the best day of her life."
Schwid's party lasted from 3 to 7 p.m., giving plenty of time for friends, well-wishers and even a few local media outlets to drop by and join the fun.
Among the hundreds of cards and gifts you sent Schwid was a handmade quilt, jewelry and even a replica WWII photo, Scott said. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who shares a birthday with Schwid, also sent a card.
Schwid, who served in military hospital in Tidworth, England, taking care of D-Day patients near the end of the war, is a familiar face at Alaska veteran events and frequently attends Honor Flight homecomings.
So what is she going to do with her 500 cards? Read them, of course, Scott said.
"She said, 'It'll take me forever to read this.' And I said, 'You have plenty of time.'"
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.