WAPPINGERS FALLS—Walking through the halls of Castle Point Campus for veterans, it is clear that Valentine’s Day has come early.
On Feb. 13, Valentine cards and decorations line the hallway near the elevators on the first floor. In a community room a few yards away, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney and his daughter are handing out Valentine’s Day cards during a special waffle brunch.
“We can’t do enough to recognize our vets and to remember them on special occasions like this,” Maloney said. “Their service and their sacrifice have made possible all the freedoms and all the prosperity the rest of us enjoy.”
His office has been doing this since he was elected in 2013 and this year it collected over 1,000 Valentines.
“The most we’ve ever had,” Maloney said.
The Valentines come from schools across his district as well as various community organizations like Abilities First and the Mental Health Association of Orange County.
And it’s not just his office that has been doing this. The Valentines that decorate the hallway were sent from around the country, and a representative for the hospital said they have been coming in by the hundreds.
“I probably have five boxes [of Valentines] in my office right now,” said Jason Tudor, the public affairs officer for the Hudson Valley Healthcare System, which runs Castle Point.
It all started with a syndicated advice column called “Ask Ann Landers” that was first written by Esther Pauline and later by Esther Lederer.
In 1989 Esther Lederer encouraged her readers to write Valentines to veterans. In 2010, the most recent data available, over 300,000 Valentines and over 15,000 visits were made to veterans in connection with Valentine’s Day.
For Dante A. Scarano, a 94-year-old WWII veteran who spent five years fighting in Europe and “was one of the lucky ones,” he said, it has become a Valentine’s Day ritual.
“It’s nice,” he said “They appreciate what we done in the war.”
Feb. 13 is also the beginning of National Salute to Veteran Patients Week, a time to “pay tribute and express appreciation” to more than 98,000 U.S. veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website says.
To contact this reporter, email email@example.com