Montreal students surprise 100-year-old war vet on his birthday
Students from Hebrew Foundation School made centenarian Willie Glaser's day special despite the pandemic
For 15 years, Second World War veteran Willie Glaser has visited the Hebrew Foundation School in the West Island to share his story.
On Friday, staff and students threw him a special celebration to mark his 100th birthday.
It wasn't a typical surprise party, since indoor and outdoor gatherings are forbidden due to the pandemic, but organizers still managed to make it a special day for the centenarian.
At a distance, community members, friends and loved ones celebrated and students joined via Zoom to wish Glaser a happy birthday.
Glaser was born in Germany to Polish-Jewish parents. In 1942, he joined the Polish forces and served as a radio operator in a tank regiment for the Allied forces.
After the war, he learned his father, mother and three of his siblings had been killed in the Holocaust.
In 1947, Glaser came to Canada and settled in Montreal, where he started to share his experiences with young people.
"He leaves such an impression on the students. The questions he answers, he's unfiltered, he's genuine. He's a real true hero and the students see that," said Stuart Cohen, a teacher at Hebrew Foundation School.
To honour and thank him, the students sent cards and a comic depicting his years of service.
A commemorative plaque and video display will also be set up at the Hebrew Foundation School.
For his part, Glaser said he feels like a spring chicken.
"It's really an experience to have a 100th birthday," said Glaser. "I feel fine, really, I feel like 80."
With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio