Woman snaps emotional, viral moment between mall Santa and WWII veteran

Jan 3, 2019

A Delaware woman snapped a wonderful photo of Santa whilst Christmas shopping with her stepson. The bearded old fellow dressed in red made a deeply touching gesture when he came across an even older gentleman, who also happened to be a veteran of the Second World War.

After Gina Stecher Wilbur, of North Wilmington, captured the marvelous moment for posterity, she shared it with LoveWhatMatters online, and the story went viral.

“It was a special day out Christmas shopping with my stepson, Cavan, that became even so much more,” she wrote.

Posted by Gina Stecher Wilbur on Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gina and Cavin had been Christmas shopping for hours and had bags full of goodies when Cavin suddenly spotted a shop near Santa’s workshop and wanted to check it out. Gina took the opportunity to rest her legs and sat down on a bench nearby.

As Gina was admiring the decorations, soaking in the Christmas spirit, she noticed Santa approaching in her direction. It then occurred to her to snap a photo of Santa—how better to make their Christmas experience that day complete!

What an absolutely unforgettable, incredible day… and it’s only 8am! So much to say but I’m soaking it in.. for now. I am in awe.

Posted by Gina Stecher Wilbur on Thursday, December 6, 2018

But just as she was getting ready to shoot, Santa headed off the other way. She watched as the bearded man strolled over to an elderly gentleman resting on a ledge, and an amazing gesture unfolded right before her eyes. Gina made sure to get a photo.

As Santa approached the gentleman, whose hat identified him as a World War II veteran, he stood up and Santa took a knee. In a soft voice, Santa said that he knew others who had also served. Santa shook the veteran’s hand, thanking him with heartfelt sincerity for his service.

Then, Santa returned to entertaining children on his knee with him in his grand Santa chair.

Christmas shopping with Cavan and took a second to sit on a bench near Santa’s workshop… then Santa steps away from…

Posted by Gina Stecher Wilbur on Saturday, December 1, 2018

Afterward, Gina and Carson returned home laden with Christmas gifts. And later that day, Gina shared Santa’s photo on her Facebook page, and her thoughts turned to the elderly veteran; who was he anyway?

“My thoughts were that someone would recognize the veteran and perhaps they would also find sentiment with the photo,” she wrote.

Gina was delightfully surprised at the quick response she received when someone online recognized the man.

“Shortly after I posted, I received a message saying, ‘that’s my Dad!’ from his daughter, Amy Platt,” Gina wrote.


Many others online, meanwhile, recognized who Santa was. He was a man of respect and kindness, they said, who not only loved to greet veterans but also to hold sleeping babies and sign to deaf children.

“I even received a Facebook message from Mrs. Claus boasting about her kind, endearing husband we all call Santa,” wrote Gina. Then she added, “If you are looking for the real Santa, I know him!”


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