Bill Reese is getting a big surprise in his room at the VA hospital in Iowa City.
"It was great," the Air Force veteran said. "It was fantastic."
Junior ROTC cadets from Davenport high schools visited him on Thursday. Students like Joshua Jaeger, 16, brought handmade valentine cards.
"Coming here just to say happy valentine's day has given back to them probably years that have been taken away from them," he said.
Valentines brighten spirits for patients and students alike. It's a special sign of respect and gratitude for those who served and sacrificed.
"I think it's great that I can show my personal appreciation for what they've done for our country," said Brooke Morales, 17.
This good cheer is part of a decade-long tradition in Davenport. Students learn more about Vietnam-era veterans like Roger Tague.
"It brightens my day," he said. "I guarantee you."
It's a living history with lots of lessons. Youngsters just soak it all up.
"If you were one of them, you would want the same thing to happen to you," said Evan Lebs, 15.
This visit brings the gift of friendship. It spans the generations between veterans and teenagers.
"We just made them so happy," said Drake Zugg, 15.
For families dealing with health issues, it's a welcome break. Students leave with a powerful impression.
"I just want to make them feel like they're family," Jaeger concluded. "They are family."
It's a special valentine for veterans, indeed.