Sometimes it takes a team effort to make an impact. Whether in civilian life or times of war, success often depends on every individual doing their part towards a common goal.
James “Mr. Joe” McPherson has proved this maxim twice now, during his 101 years on earth. As a young man, he, like many, answered the call to fight fascism during World War II.
His efforts as an Army bulldozer operator made it possible for allied tanks to gain ground in Italy. Supporting roles like his were key to Allied success. Now, the power of teamwork is showing up again in McPherson’s life, in an unexpected way: birthday cards!
As he neared his 101st birthday, Mr. Joe’s friends and family worked together to celebrate his life and service. A traditional party was out of the question given the travel and social distancing required — he resides in a South Carolina assisted living facility.
So, family friend Bob Henry put the call out for community members to send Mr. Joe birthday cards, expecting that a few kind words would brighten the centenarian’s day. They received over 1,000 cards!
“I know there’s been a lot of back and forth hatred and that kind of stuff in the country and I think it just shows that there is a lot of kindness out there too,” Henry told local news outlet WPDE. The birthday cards came from all across the US.
While Mr. Joe appreciated all of the love and support from across the country, his home community in Marion, SC had one more surprise for him. Once again, friend and caretaker Bob Henry, along with members of McPherson’s church, reached out on local news, saying: “We’re going to do a drive-thru celebration [and] I’m hoping the more cars the merrier. Make your sign… and just join in the parade!”
The Veteran’s History Museum Carolinas thanked Mr. Joe on their Facebook, saying, “We salute you and will be sending you a card!”
Dozens of cars full of appreciative South Carolinians showed up the next day, as well as Mr. Joe’s 98-year-old sister and 86-year-old brother.
The parade, in McPherson’s honor, celebrated his life, service, and longevity.
Whether it’s something as small as sending a birthday card or showing up to a parade, or something as sacrificial as serving in the armed forces, McPherson’s life has shown that anyone can play a valuable part in something bigger than themselves and that good things happen when we come together for a common goal.