When veteran Steve Politis came to volunteer at his first Operation Gratitude Assembly Day in December 2009, he was impressed.
“I came to an Operation Gratitude event, and I saw their Care Packages – turning out thousands per day to our Troops. Quite an accomplishment!”
At his first Assembly Day, he was reminded of the Care Packages–full of clothing, tools, and food–that Americans sent worldwide following World War II to help bring countries back to normalcy.
For Steve, those post-WWII Care Packages and Operation Gratitude Care Packages are symbolic of the unique American spirit.
“It’s the American way!” he said as he recalled the moment, 94 years ago, that his father taught him this lesson.
“Back in 1923, I was six years old and there had been a terrible earthquake in Japan. My dad’s an engineer, and they were putting teams together to go to Japan to restore the cities. I couldn’t understand that and said, ‘Dad, why do we do this? That country isn’t even close to ours?’ He said, ‘Well, we do things like this because we’re Americans. Americans care. Two words: Americans care.’ Even today, something happens in the world, we will respond. That’s the way we are.”
Steve turned 100 years old in January 2017 (“I never expected it to happen, but it did!”), and has spent one Saturday every month for the last eight years helping Operation Gratitude assemble Care Packages for our Troops, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. He’s a well-known figure around the F.O.B. and his enthusiasm for Operation Gratitude radiates for all to admire.
“Operation Gratitude is a very definite part of what America is,” he said.
———- Update ———-
Steve had an extraordinary life — and touched countless others during his years of work and service. On December 9, 2017, about a month before his 101st birthday, he was with us to celebrate our 2 Millionth Care Package. Before we hit that milestone, Steve went through the line in his wheelchair to assemble the 1,999,999th box. He had a smile on his face the entire time.
Steve passed away on February 25. He meant so much to us…. He will be forever missed and always remembered.