While Christmas shopping with her son, Gina Wilbur watched Santa Claus leave his post. The mall Santa thanked a veteran by taking a knee before him. Gina couldn’t resist sharing a photo on social media, and it’s no surprise the touching moment went viral!
93-year-old World War II veteran Bob Smiley is definitely on Santa’s “nice” list. And now the whole world knows it because God put Gina Wilbur in the right place at the right time!
Gina was doing some Christmas shopping with her son, Cavan, at the Concord Mall in Wilmington, Delaware. The two decided to take a break on a bench near Santa’s workshop, where kids eagerly waited to get their picture taken with Santa Claus.
But all of a sudden, Santa stood up, left his chair, and started walking toward Gina. Gina wasn’t sure what was going on but pulled out her phone to catch Santa headed in her direction.
And thank God she did. Gina ended up capturing an amazing bit of Christmas magic!
Inspirational Moment A Mall Santa Thanked A Veteran
Christmas is all about celebrating the incredible gift God gave us — His son, Jesus Christ. And of course, Jesus would go on to sacrifice Himself for our sins.
Well, this mall Santa quickly recognized that 93-year-old Bob Smiley made a sacrifice, too, by serving his country to protect the gift of our freedom.
"We owe a debt of gratitude to men like this that have made such a life-changing decision to give of themselves, be willing to lay down their life even, for other people," Santa said later in an interview with FOX29.
There was no way Santa was going to let Bob pass by without expressing his thanks. So, Santa marched over and took a knee in front of the veteran, much to the amazement of Gina and her son.
“I hear Santa telling the gentleman, in a soft voice, of others he knew who served,” Gina explained when she posted the photo on Facebook. “He shakes his hand with genuine gratefulness thanking him for his service and returns to the children.”
After sharing the experience online, the “best moment” of Gina’s day quickly started circulating over social media, with Santa’s touching actions inspiring thousands of others, too.
Special Reunion Follows Viral Photo
After the photo where the mall Santa thanked a veteran went viral, a local news station decided to reunite Gina, Santa, and Bob.
Veteran Bob Smiley had an air of humility regarding his service, so common with his generation. You served because it was your duty and privilege.
"We all went, we all served," he said. "Every boy in my high school graduating class all served. Out of 35 boys, five were killed and they were my friends for 13 years of my life."
And the Lord has certainly blessed this man. Bob proudly boasted of his 10 children, 26 grandchildren, and even more great-grandkids!
WATCH: Mall Santa Drops To Knees To Thank A Veteran
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127:3-5
What a beautiful story about the Christmas Spirit!