For nearly 12 years Frank Grasberger, a World War II veteran who served with the 106th Infantry Division, has kept a letter in his pocket.
Written in 2009 by then-third grader Dashauna Priest, the letter addressed to the veteran was simple yet profound.
“Thank you for saving us from Hitler,” she wrote. “If it wasn’t for you we would never have freedom… I’m so happy you made sacrifices.”
“I’d never be without it…it’s something that somebody thought of me that much,” Grasberger told CBS News of the handwritten message. “I’m tickled to death that I have a letter like this.”
For years Grasberger and his wife, Delores, unsuccessfully sought to track down the little girl with the big message.
“Before I close my eyes I have to find her. I have to find her,'” Grasberger repeatedly told his wife.
Aware of the importance of the letter, the staff at Vitalia Senior Residences — where the 95-year-old Grasberger now resides — did some sleuthing on their own.
Through social media Jill Pawloski, Vitalia’s resident services director, managed to track down the now 21-year-old Priest. The latter, who is currently serving in the U.S. Army National Guard, was thrilled at the opportunity to meet Grasberger.
“I just started crying, I had to go and tell my mom,” Priest told Tampa News Channel 8.
12 years ago, Frank Grasberger, a WWII veteran, received a letter from a 9 year old girl thanking him for his military service.
An employee from Frank’s assisted living home found her and they met all these years later. pic.twitter.com/FfmnmL2ftw
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) August 30, 2021
The soldier happily agreed to meet Grasberger at the center and the heartwarming meeting, captured on film, quickly went viral — amassing over 4.5 million views on TikTok.
“You’re not the girl,” Grasberger exclaimed as Priest entered the room. “Don’t make me cry, please. Honest to God. Oh, I love you so much. I really do. You don’t know how long…I pray every night with this thing, I really do. This is a Godsend, it really is.”
The pair exchanged contact information and plan on keeping in touch, according to Vitalia Senior Residences’ Facebook page.
The post ended with, “You never know just how much a simple act of kindness can touch someone’s life.”